Girls and gender
Violence against women and girls is universally recognised as a violation of their human rights, but corporal punishment - the most common form of violence which affects girls in all regions of the world - is often overlooked. Corporal punishment violates girls’ right to respect for their physical integrity and human dignity, and its legality denies them the same legal protection from assault as adults.
Girls and boys across the world grow up being hit and hurt in the name of ‘discipline’ but this experience is often gendered as girls may suffer different types of punishment or be punished for different reasons. Corporal punishment can be used to control girls’ social and sexual behaviour, to encourage deference, submission and timidity, or to reinforce traditional ideas of what it means to be a woman.
Corporal punishment is closely linked to intimate partner violence. The two kinds of violence often coexist and may be perpetrated by the same person. Children in homes where domestic violence occurs are more likely to experience corporal punishment, and it increases their risk of experiencing domestic violence later in life, either as a victim or perpetrator.
Corporal punishment in schools also impedes girls’ right to education. For too many girls, it is the beginning of a life of violent victimisation by authority figures and family members. Prohibiting corporal punishment is therefore essential in preventing violence against women and girls – both directly and as part of a broader strategy for eliminating other forms of violence.
Ending family violence
Briefing for the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (2015)
Ending violent punishment of girls
Briefing for the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (2013)
Eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse
Briefing for the World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children (2008)
News and features
Violence Against Women
This policy brief summarises the results of a global review of evidence on intersections between VAC and VAW, published in Global Health Action in 2016
Help us ensure all girls and boys are protected from violence, wherever they are.