Born to High Risk: Violence against Girls in Africa

  • Violence Against Children
Pages: 70
Year of Publication: 2006
Country: Africa

Former Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (1995-2005) According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 40 million children under the age of 15 are victims of violence every year. Almost certainly, this statistic underestimates the problem and it is clear that violence against children is a serious cause of concern.

Some four years ago, in its resolution 56/138, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, upon the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, requested that the Secretary-General conduct an in-depth study on the issue of violence against children. The Secretary-General thus appointed in February 2003 an independent expert, Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, to direct the study in collaboration with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and WHO. This report will be based on available evidence, information and a series of regional consultations.

Girls in Africa are particularly vulnerable to various forms of violence - both by virtue of their gender and because of the socio-economic and cultural conditions prevailing in their communities. African girls experience violence in the classroom, at home and in the community, and, in times of conflict and crisis, are special targets of violence.

The African Child Policy Forum believes that ending violence against girls in Africa is one of the most pressing challenges facing Africa today. Hence, this report which has been prepared to inform the discussions at the Second International Policy Conference on the African Child: Violence Against Girls in Africa (May 11 and 12, 2006). The report pulls together information from three sources: existing literature in violence against girls; thematic studies on five settings in which African girls experience violence; and retrospective surveys of young girls' experiences of 2 The Second International Policy Conference on the African Child:  Violence Against Girls in Africa violence. This rich and revealing information has been analysed to give an overview of the magnitude of the problem, its causes and consequences, as well as the elements of a possible strategy for the way forward.

The report echoes the voices of African girls who have experienced violence - voices that often remain unheard. In doing so, it aims to enable them to reach policy-makers who can effect change on their behalf. Their voices are reinforced by the quantitative information from the surveys commissioned by The African Child Policy Forum to identify the magnitude of the problem of violence against girls. But it is important to remember that this report is not just a statistical synthesis and analysis. It is about real lives and about girls whose experiences of violence are very real; Josephine Wambui Mwangi from Kenya actually did receive a beating at school so severe that she died; 10-year-old Musa from Sierra Leone was really left to look after herself after rebels took her brother and sister away.

The report's purpose is not to dwell on how and why we are failing girls in Africa. Rather, it is a call for action - to acknowledge our individual and collective responsibility to protect all children and meet the challenge of ending violence against girls in Africa.

Language: English
Published by: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Author: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Located in: Publications

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Institute of policy research and dialogue on the African child.

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Founder Assefa Bequele, PhD

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