‘World still violent, biased place for girls’

Foreign Desk Report

NEW YORK: Despite gains in education, violence against women and girls is not only common, but widely accepted, a new United Nations (UN) 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 Children’s Fund (UNICEF), together with UN Women and the non-governmental organization, 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 others 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 15-19 — around 13 million — has faced sexual assault in their 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 prevalence of ‘overweight’ among girls aged 5-19 nearly doubled touching 155 million from 75 million in 1995 due to negative trends for girls in nutrition and suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15-19.
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 other reality.
Around one in five adolescent girls aged 15 and 19 in South Asia who have been married or lived with a partner, have experienced intimate partner violence.
“…While the world has mustered 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.
Girls are at risk of violence in every space both online and in classrooms, home and community leading to physical, psychological and social consequences. The report says harmful practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation continue to damage lives and potential of millions of girls.