More than 200 million children, mostly girls, have been victims of sexual violence in the world, according to a report by Plan International, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) which proposes greater action by governments and civil society to eradicate this problem.
The report “The right of girls to learn without fear“, states that “worldwide is estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys have experienced sexual violence”.
Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Plan International notes that “nearly half of all sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.”
Between 500 and 1,500 million children experience some form of violence each year, says the study, whose author organization is present in 70 countries, and points out that the prevalence of violence experienced by children “is unacceptable.”
According to the findings, at least 246 million children in the world suffer violence at school every year, as shown by the results.
“Some 66 million children receive no education that could transform their lives and the world around them”, as it is more likely that those who complete primary and secondary education receive a higher income, have fewer unwanted pregnancies and break the cycles of poverty.
The NGO identifies gender violence and around existing schools as a “major barrier to achieving quality education.”
He adds that “in most societies unequal power relations between adults and children and gender stereotypes leave school girls particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, rape, coercion, exploitation and discrimination from teachers, staff and peers”.
In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, early pregnancies, which are increasing in the region, shows a situation of abuse and sexual violence that constitutes to a criminal act that “seriously” harms the current and future development of the girls.
This was stated by Roland Angerer, Regional Director of Plan International, who says that Latin America has over 104 million girls without opportunities for development just because they are young and women.
In this reality there is the decisive influence early pregnancies, which often occurs as a result of domestic violence, in schools and also by the social environment of the community in which girls and adolescents live, said the director for Latin America and the Caribbean of this NGO.
Another factor that works against the full development of children and adolescents is domestic work, which according to Angerer “takes time” way from studying and delays their entry to school.
Added to this, is the educational content, which constitutes another barrier that “doesn’t help them overcome the gender gap” that diminishes their opportunities and empowerment, added the director of Plan International, which has a regional office in Panama.
The NGOs stressed the need, in addition to ensuring access to schools, for children to receive a “quality education in a safe school environment free of prejudice and to promote gender equality.”
In that sense, Plan International also proposes “comprehensive and integrated” actions between governments and civil society organizations to prevent and respond to violence.
These actions and policies should be gender sensitive, taking into account the diversity of experiences, the needs of marginalized children, and specifically analyze the school context, highlights the NGO’s report.