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Jamaican youth: taking on gender stereotypes to address sexual violence

Jonna Lundwall's picture

In Jamaica, widespread violence constitutes a serious development challenge that affects men and women across generations. Young men and women are particularly at risk of experiencing violence, albeit in different forms and for different reasons

For young women, sexual violence is a particular concern: 12% of women report having been forced to have sexual intercourse at some point in their lives, and nearly half of Jamaican women report that their first sexual intercourse was coerced in some way, e.g. through violence, threats, verbal insistence, deception, cultural expectations or economic circumstance (see Jamaica Reproductive Health Survey 2008-2009 for additional data)  In line with global trends, Jamaican women who are sexually assaulted are likely to know their aggressors; 85% of young women who experienced forced first sexual relations reported that the perpetrator was a boyfriend. 

Like their victims, perpetrators of sexual violence are also young. Official crime statistics show that 57% of perpetrators arrested for rape in 2007 were young males between 16 and 30 years of age, with the highest rates among 16-20 year olds. Similarly, the largest share of persons arrested for other forms of sexual violence in 2007 were males between 16 and 25 years. 

How can we explain the high incidence of sexual violence among Jamaican youth?

Through the World Bank’s NextGENDERation Initiative, we have sought to understand whether and how social and gender norms shape youth decision-making and behaviors relating to violence.  By listening to young people through focus groups, social media outreach as well as school and community-based engagements, our team has been able to gain more insight into the drivers and triggers of sexual violence among youth, and to provide them with a space to think critically about how gender roles and stereotypes affect their attitudes and actions with regard to dating, relationships and sex. 

Colombia: Building a Future without Violence with Juanes and Mi Sangre

Gloria M. Grandolini's picture

También disponible en español

money under the mattress

“A microphone, a guitar and a spray can; these are their weapons.” These could be the lyrics of a song by the wildly popular Juanes, but the singer-songwriter was actually referring to the work of his foundation, Mi Sangre, which campaigns for a Colombia free from violence for young people.

The Foundation’s programs offer Colombian youth, many of whom are victims of violence in the country -- 4,000 minors died in 2003-2006-- the chance to practice the art of singing, painting and composing to exorcize the threat of violence on the streets, in their neighborhoods, homes and schools. 

Gender-Based Violence: Is it the World Bank’s Business?

Maria Beatriz Orlando's picture

También disponible en Español

Distribution of solar light bulbs/flashlights at the KOFAVIV Women's Center, February 10,

Gender inequality comes in many shapes and (depressing) colors.  A recent trip to Haiti showed me and my colleagues, perhaps its ugliest and most damaging face: violence against women of all ages, including babies. But as ugly as it is, can we make it our business?

I think the answer is yes. Here is why.