Sexual violence against girls is a global human rights injustice with severe health and social consequences. The data are stark. In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that 150 million girls had experienced sexual violence sometime in their lives. Sexual violence against girls has dire public health consequences. Girls who are survivors of sexual violence are at increased biological risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Evidence also suggests sexual violence alters the life path of many girls, leading them down a road of depression, substance abuse and high-risk behavior. In sub-Saharan Africa, girls are two to 4.5 times more likely to become infected with HIV than boys, and women constitute approximately 60 percent of those living with HIV.
In response to this global epidemic, PEPFAR has joined a groundbreaking public-private partnership called Together for Girls. Under the leadership of Michele Moloney-Kitts, former Assistant U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, the partnership brings the US Government together with private sector organizations including the Nduna Foundation, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), the CDC Foundation and Grupo ABC, and four United Nations agencies, led by UNICEF and UNAIDS. Together for Girls' efforts focus on three pillars:
Together for Girls works in support of national governments, civil society and the private sector. It seeks to promote a balance between ending sexual violence through policies and programs that prevent its perpetration, and support for programs to mitigate its consequences -- for example, ensuring the perpetrators are held accountable and providing services for victims. Results from a nationwide survey in Swaziland created a grassroots movement to change existing legislation to prevent and respond sexual violence. In Tanzania, the rollout of the national survey has been catalytic, supporting the work of a multi-sectoral task force -- composed of government, civil society, and both bilateral and multilateral partners -- to launch a data-driven response to sexual violence against girls. The results from the survey are being finalized, and the task force has been building consensus around a national action plan to respond to the concerns raised by these data."
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