Violence against girls not only common but widely accepted: UN report
PESHAWAR: Despite gains in education, violence against women and girls is not only common but widely accepted, a new United Nations report revealed on Wednesday.
Although more girls are going to school and staying in school than ever before, little headway has been made to help shape a more equal, less violent environment for them, warned the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef), together with UN Women and the non-governmental organisation, Plan International, in their report, ‘A New Era for Girls: Taking stock on 25 years of progress.’
The report, released ahead of the 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, underlined, among other disturbing trends, that despite the number of out-of-school girls having dropped by 79 million in the last two decades, one in every 20 girls aged 15 to 19 — around 13 million — has faced sexual assault in her lifetime.
In South Asia, while the report notes that the practice of child marriage has almost halved in the last 25 years, 30 per cent of girls are still married before they reach their 18th birthday.
The report found the prevalence of being ‘overweight’ among girls aged 15 to 19 nearly doubled touching 155 million from 75 million in 1995 due to negative trends in nutrition for girls. It also found that suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15-19, surpassed only by maternal conditions.
While girls became more likely to be in secondary school than boys in just the last decade, violence and harmful practices against women and girls was the harsh reality. Around one in five adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 in South Asia who have been married or lived with a partner, have experienced domestic violence, according to the report.
“ … While the world has mustered the political will to send girls to school, it has come up embarrassingly short on equipping them with skills and support they need not only to shape their own destinies but to live in safety and dignity,” Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
The report highlighted that in 2016, women and girls accounted for 70 per cent of detected trafficking victims globally, mostly involving sexual exploitation.
Moreover, an astonishing one-in-20 girls between the ages of 15 and 19, has experienced sexual assault in her lifetime.
The report has been launched in line with the Generation Equality campaign to open a global conversation for action and accountability on gender equality, and to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
“Since 1995 in Beijing, when a specific focus on ‘girl-child’ issues first emerged, we have increasingly heard girls assert their rights and call us to account,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
“But the world has not kept up with their expectations of responsible stewardship of the planet, a life without violence, and their hopes for economic independence.
"Girls today are at a startling risk of violence, whether it is in school, at home, or online as well as throughout their communities, which leads to physical, psychological and social consequences," Mlambo-Ngcuka added.
According to the report, each year 12 million girls are married in childhood, and four million risk FGM. And girls aged 15 to 19, are as likely to justify wife-beating, as boys of the same age. - APP