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What Works to Prevent Sexual Violence


hat Works to Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children:

Together for Girls, in partnership with the Oak Foundation and the Equality Institute undertook a systematic review of proven solutions and best practices to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children. The study was released in October, 2019.

The review includes data from IJM’s collaboration with the Guatemalan Government to investigate and prosecute sexual violence against children. IJM’s intervention to build trauma-informed capacity to prosecute sexual violence against children in Guatemala was categorized in the evidence review as “prudent”. The following is from the What Works to Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children, Evidence Review:

Data from International Justice Mission’s (IJM) program in Guatemala suggests that a criminal justice response to sexual violence against children can be improved significantly, leading to an increase in sexual violence crimes reported to the authorities. Along with community-based awareness of the crime, consistent apprehension and punishment of perpetrators of sexual violence against children (SVAC) can have a beneficial influence on cultural norms.

From 2005 to 2017, IJM provided support to 465 victims of sexual violence against children and their families. In partnership with the public ministry (prosecution service) and the national police, more than 287 individuals were arrested and accused, contributing to the achievement of convictions against 267 individuals in the project area. IJM has provided training and mentoring for Guatemalan prosecutors and members of the designated police unit specializing in investigating sexual violence. IJM conducted a baseline and endline study of the Guatemalan government’s response to child sexual assault reports, evaluating case files from the period 2008-2012, and repeating the study for the period 2013-2017. The study found a 136% increase in the number of SVAC complaints filed.

Many key informants attributed the increase to a more prevalent reporting culture and more available information for victims and their families. Changes include:

  • The criminal justice system substantially increased its use of victim-sensitive practices when gathering victim testimony. Whereas the use of victim-friendly spaces for gathering victims’ testimonies was uncommon at baseline (30% of cases), it became nearly universal at endline (98% of cases). The greatest improvement was seen in the use of Gesell Chambers (designated, trauma-informed facilities for victims to provide testimony outside the courtroom), which was non-existent at baseline (0 cases) but commonplace at endline (77% of cases).
  • The volume of SVAC indictments increased 157% (1,560 at baseline vs. 4,002 at endline), but because there was also a rise in reporting, this represented only a moderate increase in the percentage of SVAC complaints reaching indictment (9.8% at baseline vs. 10.8% at endline).

For the complete “What Works to Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children”, see

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