Rights4Girls is a human rights organization working to end sex trafficking and gender-based violence in the U.S. We advocate for the dignity and personhood of young women and girls - so that every girl may possess the right to be safe and live a life free of violence and exploitation. Based in Washington, D.C., Rights4Girls works to make the lives of U.S. young women and girls a human rights priority.
We achieve policy change through education, engagement, and movement building. We focus on policy because we believe in transformational change for girls. When polices are improved for girls, the impact is sweeping, enduring, and generational. Policy reform does not save one girl from sexual violence—it provides recognition in law to ensure safe haven to hundreds of trafficked and exploited girls. It is our focus on policy reform that is improving the lives of thousands of young women and girls here in the U.S.
Girls in the United States are subject to violence at alarming rates. One in four American girls will experience sexual violence by the age of 18. Girls aged 16 to 19 are four times more likely than others to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. And, nearly one in five women reports being subject to rape in her lifetime.
Sexual violence cuts across every boundary of race, ethnicity, and class. Yet for girls at the margins, the experience of sexual violence and the trauma that results often funnels them into the juvenile justice system through a Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline. Currently, there are an unprecedented number of vulnerable girls entering the juvenile justice system. Sexual abuse is a primary predictor for delinquency in girls and is more central to girls’ journeys to detention than it is for boys.
When we fail to recognize and appropriately address their trauma, we deny girls the protections afforded to other victims of child abuse. Too often, girls are criminalized for behaviors that are natural responses to trauma—behaviors such as running away or self-medicating through substance use. In the worst cases, they are arrested and charged with prostitution, despite their being victims of child sex trafficking.
It is imperative to frame violence against women and girls in the U.S. within a human rights context. Comparable rates of gendered violence in Africa, Latin America, and Asia have warranted a human rights movement giving voice and visibility to women and girls. Now is the time for a similar human rights approach to highlight the conditions of sexual violence, exploitation, rape, and trafficking in the U.S. Gendered violence in the U.S., like gendered violence abroad, restricts women and girls’ rights and the realization of their full potential and dignity. Rights4Girls strives to make the lives of American young women and girls a human rights priority.
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