We support women and girls in war and crisis zones

Stigmatisation of survivors

After a rape, the blame of the perpetrator is often attributed to the victim.

There is almost no other crime apart from rape where the male perpetrator’s guilt for his crime is attributed to the victim. This blaming can take place both directly and indirectly, and it happens at various levels. These include myths such as the idea that certain clothing provokes rape, or legal structures that lead to women being imprisoned after being raped. All of these serve to trivialise men’s violence against women, and ultimately to maintain patriarchal structures.

For women and girls, this often puts them in an unresolvable dilemma: either they remain silent about the crime, which saves them from stigmatisation in their community but leaves them alone as they try to cope with the psychological and physical consequences of the crime, or they speak out in order to access support and justice but run the risk of consequences such as isolation or even threats from their family or society. Sometimes taboos are so strong or support is lacking anyway, so they see remaining silent as the only option. Survivors of sexualised violence suffer psychological and physical injuries with scars felt for the rest of their lives. They also frequently have to live with social exclusion, poverty and inadequate medical care.