Countering the pandemic of gender-based violence and maltreatment of young people

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Violence against women and young people is persistent and perverse. Few if any health conditions or risk factors affect such large segments of the global population, and people living in poverty and vulnerable situations, including forced migration and humanitarian emergencies, are especially at risk. More than a third of women and girls - over 1 billion people - experience intimate partner violence or non-partner physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Nearly a quarter of all adults worldwide report physical abuse as children and the lifetime prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is unacceptably high for both sexes, although more frequent for girls (almost 20%) than boys (almost 10%). Country-specific data, differentiated by age and considering all gender identities, are required to monitor progress in reducing prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) yet are scarce except in high-income countries.

Now, 25 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and a decade before the SDGs should be achieved, we must ask: what will break the inertia of violence against women and young people?

The Lancet Commission on Gender-based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People seeks to create knowledge essential to counter the pandemic. Over the coming 2–3 years, the Commission will generate new tools and data to enable policy makers and advocates to catalyse and scale up effective policies, interventions, and programmes in health, education, income-generation, and gender equality.

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