sexual violence


Any non-consensual sexual act or attempt to obtain an act of a sexual nature that is performed on another person without her or his freely given consent, irrespective of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. Acts of sexual violence attack the right to sexual freedom, autonomy, control, integrity and security, as well as the right to experience pleasure and to have a healthy, safe and satisfying sexual life. At the same time, these rights are intimately related to reproductive rights, such as the freedom and autonomy to decide when to have children, how many children to have, and which contraceptive to use.

Examples of sexual violence include, but are not limited to, rape, date rape and marital rape.

See also: rape; date rape; marital rape; sexual harassment; gender-based violence; victim; survivor

Propose an update


(1) Council of Europe (2011). Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and its Explanatory Memorandum. Council of Europe Treaty Series No 210; (2) European Commission (2010). Feasibility report to assess the possibilities, opportunities and needs to standardise national legislation on violence against women, violence against children and sexual orientation violence; (3) United Nations. Secretary-General’s campaign to end violence against women. Available at: