Key Terms & Definitions

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence that is directed against a person on the basis of gender.

It constitutes a breach of the fundamental right to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality between women and men, non-discrimination and physical and mental integrity.
European Institute for Gender Equality, EIGE

Sexual Violence

No universally agreed definition on sexual violence exists but the World Health Organization broadly defines sexual violence as:

“any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work”.

Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people receive something (for example food, accommodation, drugs) as a result of engaging in sexual activities.
Department for Education, 2014

Sexual Abuse

Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. It may involve physical contact, but may also involve non-contact activities such as encouraging a child to nehave in sexually inappropriate ways or ‘grooming’ a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).

Sexual Harassment

1) Unwanted conduct on the grounds of your sex

An example of this could be if you are being bullied at work and the harasser would not treat somebody of the opposite sex in this way. The conduct does not have to be of a sexual nature for this form of harassment.

The conduct must be done with the purpose of, or have the effect of, violating your dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you.

2) Unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature

If the conduct is of a sexual nature, this is unlawful in itself and you do not have to compare yourself to how somebody of the opposite sex would be treated. This could include:

  • Comments about the way you look which you find demeaning
  • Indecent remarks
  • Questions about your sex life
  • Sexual demands by a member of your own or the opposite sex

Incidents involving touching and other physical threats are criminal offences and should also be reported to the police.

Again, the conduct must be done with the purpose of, or have the effect of, violating your dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you.
Equality & Human Rights Commission

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