Harassment, genital mutilation, child brides & sexual violence
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London – 11 October 2012
“An estimated 100 million girls worldwide are subjected domestic violence, sex abuse, trafficking, bonded labour, forced marriages, genital mutilation, compulsory veiling and the sex trade – with many more suffering fewer educational, job and income prospects compared to boys. This systematic mistreatment of young girls is one of the world’s most shameful human rights violations,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
He was speaking on the inaugural UN International Day of the Girl, today, 11 October 2012.
“The Taliban’s gunning down this week of a girl education campaigner in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, aged 14, exemplifies the precarious and threatened status of female children in many parts of the world. READ:
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“Empowering young girls uplifts them and their communities. It’s one of the best investments any society can make,” said Mr Tatchell.
“An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school by15 to 25 percent.
“When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
“The education of girls is vital in the battle against global poverty and under-development.
“Sexism is a barrier to human progress. Improved rights for women and girls are key drivers of economic and social advancement,” he said.
Violence, sex abuse & harassment
According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women:
- Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
- An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 have suffered some form of sexual violence.
- Of girls who had their first sexual experience before the age of 15, up to 45 percent say it was forced.
- Around 100-140 million girls and women have been subjected female genital mutilation, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk.
- In the United States, 83% of girls aged 12 to 16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
- Over 60 million girls are married before the age of 18. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened.
Education exclusion, child brides, HIV infection
The Girl Effect report found that:
- One quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
- Of the world’s 130 million young people not in education, 70% are girls.
- One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15.
- 75 percent of 15-24 year-olds living with HIV in Africa are female.
Anti-female bias in births
In India the number of girls under 7 years of age is seriously declining as boys are favoured over girls, according to India’s 2011 census. The number of girls has dropped from 976 girls per 1,000 boys in 1961 to 914 girls per 1,000 boys today – partly due to higher female infant mortality rates and partly to sex selection during pregnancy and the abortion of “unwanted” female foetuses.
“Unless we challenge the negative perceptions, status and treatment of girls, they will continue to suffer inequality, discrimination and abuse, to their detriment and to the detriment of humanity. The UN must make the empowerment of girls a development goal priority,” said Mr Tatchell.