Gender-Based Violence

The Issue

Sexual violence accounts for more disability and death among women around the world aged 15-44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined (World Health Organization).

In Minnesota, 30% of women have reported being raped. In the United States, more than 600 women are raped or sexually assaulted daily and three women, on average, are murdered every day by an intimate partner. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 48 women are raped every hour. That’s 576 per day.

Violence against men is also widespread, and “gender-based violence” refers to the specific targeting of either men or women for acts of violence because of their gender.



Murder, rape, coerced sex, sexual assault, mutilation, and emotional or psychological abuse are all forms of gender violence. They are crimes of opportunity and impunity around the world.

Opportunity – because it often happens in settings where the victim and the perpetrator are unseen by others.

Opportunity – because cultural norms, whether in our own towns or in a remote village in Congo, shape a perpetrator’s feeling of power and entitlement to violence and a victim’s feeling of powerlessness.

Impunity – because we have the laws, both locally and globally, to prosecute crimes of rape and sexual violence, but perpetrators are seldom held to account in systems that tolerate abuse and violence.


Why We Care

Rape and sexual violence are used as tools of genocide. The first person ever convicted of the crime of genocide is Jean Paul Akayesu, a Rwandan found guilty of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda – for rape.  He didn’t perpetrate rape himself but encouraged it to be used.

The global is the local.  Locally, at least 34 Minnesotans lost their lives as a result of domestic violence last year. If we allow crimes of sexual violence to happen in our own communities, under the rule of law and during times of peace, we will tolerate these crimes when they happen elsewhere during war and conflict.


What You Can Do

1. Learn More

Attend one of our upcoming events to learn about the issues facing women today. Please visit the Events Calendar on our Homepage to view upcoming events.

2. Protect yourself and others

To get help, call one of the following HOTLINES:

Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women Crisis Line    651-646-0994

MN Domestic Violence Crisis Line                             1-866-223-1111

National Domestic Violence Hotline                           1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

National Sexual Assault Line                                    1-800-656-HOPE

National Human Trafficking Resource Center             1-888-373-7888

For more information on how to receive a protective order from an abusive partner, click here.

3. Advocate for National and International Measures to Protect Women

International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) – Urge your senators and representatives in Washington, D.C. to reintroduce IVAWA, which addresses gender-based violence in its many forms – including rape, domestic violence, sexual violence, genital mutilation, forced and child marriage, “honor” marriage, dowry related violence and human trafficking.

If passed, this legislation can protect and empower women and girls around the world, including women in areas like Darfur and Congo where rape is used as a weapon of war.

Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – Urge your senators in Washington, D.C. to ask our government to ratify the United Nations Convention to End Discrimination against Women.  This Convention has been ratified by more than 90 percent of UN member nations but not by the United States.

By ratifying CEDAW, the United States would commit to measures that end discrimination against women in all forms.

4. Support funding for shelters and other organizations that help those who are victimized

The following sites contain lists of organizations in Minnesota which are helping to end violence against women:

Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women

United Front MN

Women’s Advocates