ISLAMABAD: Almost one quarter of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide that make approximately 70 million, report being victims of some form of physical violence, United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) reported on Friday.
Ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child, UNICEF issued a new compilation of data from New York revealing the magnitude of violence against adolescent girls and the alarming attitudes that perpetuate such abuse.
The report reveals that around 120 million girls under the age of 20 worldwide (about 1 in 10) have experienced forced sexual acts, and one in 3 ever-married adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 (84 million) have been victims of emotional, physical or sexual violence committed by their husbands or partners.
The compilation incorporates a selection of global data released throughout the year, detailing the very real impact violence has on adolescent girls, their futures, and that of their communities and countries.
The data has also suggested that in some countries, as many as seven in 10 girls aged 15 to 19 who had been victims of physical or sexual abuse had never sought help: many said they did not think it was abuse or did not see it as a problem.
Moreover, worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. More than one in three (about 250 million) entered into union before the of age 15.
The data also revealed damaging perceptions on the acceptability of violence, particularly among girls.
Globally nearly half of girls aged 15 to 19 believe a man is justified in beating his wife or partner under certain circumstances pertaining to conjugal relations and other domestic affairs.
“These numbers speak to a mindset that tolerates, perpetuates, and even justifies violence – and should sound an alarm to everyone, everywhere,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta said.
“The problem is global but the solutions must be found at the national, community and family level. We have a responsibility to protect, educate, and empower adolescents.
We are all accountable for ending violence against girls,” she added.
UNICEF points to specific actions to prevent violence against girls including keeping girls in school; providing them with critical life skills; supporting parents, including with cash transfers to mitigate risks to girls; changing attitudes and norms through community conversations; and strengthening judicial, criminal and social systems and services.