Gender-based violence continues to be a top risk for women and girls who have been impacted by the humanitarian situation in Venezuela—including those displaced to neighboring countries—the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned after analyzing data collected between 2022 and 2023.

The IRC analyzed data gathered through its gender-based violence prevention and response programs (implemented directly or through local organizations) in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Based on details shared during the management of incidents reported by individuals who have accessed the program, the IRC highlighted that:

Marianne Menjivar, Director for the Venezuela Crisis Response at the IRC, said:

“In a world where women are exposed to different types of violence just for being who they are, those who live in the midst of a humanitarian crisis are even at a higher risk. This is particularly the case for women who have been displaced, as they encounter multiple needs and risks in their country of origin, along the migration route and even in the places where they settle.

“When designing programs to respond to the needs of women and girls in humanitarian contexts, we must consider that today, they face barriers not only to receive basic services, but even to report incidents of violence and get access to efficient justice and protection mechanisms. The support of the international community is essential to promote protection and integration mechanisms to create dignified conditions so that they can rebuild their lives free of violence.”


In May, Colombia declared a national emergency due to the escalation of violence against women and girls: as of August 2023, over 350 femicides had been recorded. In a previous needs assessment by R4V, the consortium noted that 1.4 million womenincluding Venezuelans who were in transit or trying to stay in the country, as well as Colombians who had been returned to their home country—had been affected by gender-based violence. 

Based on information collected after responding to 879 incidents of gender-based violence through case management services between December 2022 and October 2023 (7 out of 10 cases were related to migrant women), the IRC found that the most frequent causes of reports were tied to physical attacks (43%), followed by psychological and emotional abuse (37%) and sexual violence (9%), the latter particularly related to armed conflict and urban violence.


Studies from previous years have shown that 6 out of 10 women have experienced some type of gender-based violence in Ecuador and between January and September of this year at least 238 women had been victims of femicide. In the particular case of Venezuelan women in the country, gender-based violence is often made invisible due to barriers to seeking protection from the authorities.

In collaboration with the local organization Fundación Lunita Lunera, the IRC has supported 82 cases of survivors of gender-based violence between July and October 2023, most of whom were migrants or refugees, although 11% belonged to the host community. In 43% of the cases people reported psychological violence, 32% physical violence and 7% economic violence. In most cases the perpetrator was a current or former partner (33% and 56% respectively), although in 11% of the cases criminal gang members were identified.


During this year, nearly 126,000 cases of gender-based violence and 122 femicides have been recorded in Peru. Reports of gender-based violence against migrant and refugee women have increased in the country, being one of the main perceived protection risks for these groups. In fact, 60% of human trafficking cases during the first months of the year affected Venezuelan women.

After analyzing information from 799 cases managed since July 2022, the IRC informed that the majority of individuals declared that they had experienced more than one type of violence, with psychological and emotional abuse being the most common (78%). Physical violence ranked second, reported in 26% of the cases, followed by sexual violence at 7%. The analysis also revealed that 8 out of 10 cases involved foreign women, with 79% of them being Venezuelan.


Out of 2,923 cases supported by the IRC’s program implemented through local partners in Venezuela, 65% have been related to psychological or emotional violence. Physical violence has been identified in 19% of cases, almost 7% expressed they have experienced challenges to access services or resources due to their gender and 6% corresponds to sexual violence. Among all cases, 8% were associated with adolescents. 

The IRC’S response

The IRC's women's protection and empowerment programs in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela (implemented through local partners) have consisted of a broad portfolio of prevention, mitigation and response actions in relation to gender-based violence. The IRC has carried out gender-based violence prevention and response programs with a mixed model of direct implementation and work through local partners, with funding from organizations such as European Union Humanitarian Aid; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the United States Department of State.


*This article was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.