Gender-based violence (GBV) is any type of harm directed against a person because of their gender. It is a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. Young women are affected more than young men. This does not mean that young men don’t experience abuse, just less so than young women.
GBV affects people from all social, economic and cultural backgrounds but not everyone is affected equally. For example, Black and global majority young people, LGBTQIA+ young people, and disabled young people experience additional violence and discrimination, and they find it harder to access the specialist support they need.
Street harassment has become a ‘normal’ part of growing up for many young women and marginalised people, who often receive unwanted sexual attention, often when they are wearing school uniform.
- 78% of young women aged 17-21 see or experience sexism in public.
- Two thirds of girls have experienced unwanted sexual attention in public.
“I want to feel safe leaving the house and going somewhere on my own.”– Young woman aged 11-16 – ‘Girls’ Attitudes Survey’, Girlguiding, 2022
Young people experience the highest rates of domestic violence and abuse of any age group.
- 1 in 4 young women and nearly 1 in 5 young men report having experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner.
- 36% of young women have been physically or emotionally harmed by an intimate partner.
“I’d be out with my friends and he’d drag me off and say he didn’t want me out any longer…”
Over 50,000 young people have posted testimony of misogyny, sexual harassment, abuse and assault to Everyone’s Invited, exposing the endemic nature of rape culture in UK schools and colleges.
- 59% of young women aged 13-21 said they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year.
- A quarter of young women at mixed-gender schools have been subjected to unwanted sexual touching while at school.
- 90% of girls say sexist name calling happens to them or their peers.
In recent years the scale of online abuse amongst young people has grown exponentially and is felt acutely by young women, with Black girls more likely to experience abuse compared to their white peers. Unlike white women, Black women have historically been perceived as objects of sexual exploitation and ‘these stereotypes have lasted and seeped into modern media and societal domains’.
- Young women are twice as likely as boys to report being bullied online.
- 62% of young women have experienced online abuse or harassment on social media or another online platform.
- 80% of girls and young women see or experience sexism online and on social media.
Statistics are a good way to start a conversation with young people about gender inequality and GBV and can support them to understand the scale of the issue and why it needs to be addressed. Relevant statistics should be shared sensitively as a way of informing young people, rather than to shock.
Girlguiding, ‘Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2022‘, (2022)
Plan International, ‘Street Harassment – It’s Not Okay’, (2018)
Christine Barter, Melanie McCarry, David Berridge & Kathy Evans, ‘Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships’, (2009)
Scottish Women’s Aid and YWCA Scotland, ‘The Rise Report: Supporting young women facing abuse in their intimate relationships’, (2022)
Girlguiding, ‘Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2014’, (2014)
NEU & UK Feminista, ‘It’s just everywhere: A study on sexism in schools – and how to tackle it’, (2017)
Ofsted, ‘Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges‘, (2021)
Public Health England, ‘Cyberbullying: An Analysis of data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey for England’, (2014)
Refuge, ‘Unsocial Spaces: Make online spaces safer for women and girls’, (2021)