Over the past year, I have worked hard to build awareness and share the stories with my readers on some of the biggest social issues in the world. I have written about global health, poverty, education, safe water and sanitation, human rights, and most of all, how all of these issues have especially impacted women and girls in the developing world.
One topic that is near and dear to my heart is violence against women and girls. It is absolutely horrifying that in today’s world women and girls are being physically and sexually abused on a daily basis. Sadly, it happens everywhere. Yet violence against women and girls is even a greater problem in countries of poverty where the status of women is often so incredibly marginalized that women and girls have little or no say in the matter.
Traveling last May to India brought the issue of violence against women and girls to the forefront. I had just arrived after the horrendous rape and killing of a young Indian girl on a moving bus. The country was still in an uproar over the event and justice against these young men who took her life is still being sought. Today, I read the surprising news that these men have been convicted of the highest penalty possible: The death penalty and perhaps marked a change in the way law fighting these atrocities will be handled.
Yet has anything really truly changed for the millions of women around the world who are faced with violence, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, neglect and unworthiness every single day of their lives? Not much. There are laws in India against physical and sexual abuse but seldom are they enforced.
Another thing I learned while I was in India, is the deeply disturbing truth that women and girls are abused way more often than I had imagined. In India, a rape is reported every 21 minutes and even worse gruesome rapes of young children have become common. These are only the abuses that have been reported and many more go unreported due to fear or stigma. Furthermore, girls are not alone. Even boys are subject to sexual violence and abuse.
“On a global scale, the World Health Organization estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact”.
Source: 2002 UN Study on Violence Against Children
How can this be happening?
Since my visit to India, I have kept in touch with perhaps one of the most admirable advocates for India’s disadvantaged children I’ve ever met: Sonal Kapoor, founder of Protsahan, a school for underprivileged girls in the heart of India. Sonal is working with UNICEF India on a campaign to spread awareness and end violence against India’s most vulnerable citizens: Their children.
Please read more about the campaign below and feel free to share with friends. As always thank you so much for your support and caring about these issues. Together, we can all make the world a better place.
UNICEF India’s END Violence Campaign
Millions of girls in India face obstacles in their lives, experiencing various forms of discrimination, exploitation and abuse on account of their age and their sex. Each year, an increasing number of children in India face sexual violence.
Recently, there have been cases of rape that have galvanized global attention and sparked mass demonstrations and widespread debate on the issue of sexual violence directed at children.
However, there are many cases that go under reported. Fear of social stigma and victimization often stop children and their families from reporting these crimes. In India, a total of 48,338 child rape cases were recorded from 2001 to 2011.
The registration of cases of child rape have been consistently increasing from 2001 (2,113 cases) to 2011 (7,112 cases) – a 336% increase of child rape cases. Of the total 24,270 reported cases in 2011, a staggering 7,112 or 30 per cent were girls up to 18 years of age.
Since much violence is hidden from public view – and because it is too often tolerated – the numbers do not reflect the true magnitude of the problem. When violence occurs, the physical wounds or bruises may disappear but the mental scars may not.
Sexual violence affects children’s physical and mental health, compromises their ability to learn and socialize, and undermines their development as functional adults and good parents later in life.
There is no place for sexual violence against children in the 21st century. Yet it continues to destroy lives in every country and at all levels of society. Too often, however, it is an invisible problem because it occurs within homes and families or because people turn a blind eye to it, or simply fail to report it due to fear or stigma.
The ENDviolence campaign Initiative seeks to bring together new ideas, new thinking, and new examples of where people can focus their efforts and energies to raise awareness about sexual abuse in India and bring about an end to it.
This is not a one-off effort, but a collective effort and a sustained initiative that will shine an ever brighter light on an issue that has remained invisible for far too long.
To know more about the sexual abuse and ENDViolence campaign, click here.
All information above on the #ENDViolence Campaign used with permission from UNICEF India.
Posts written specifically on the END Violence Campaign, a multi-national effort of bloggers from around the world:
- Women’s Web : ‘Why Children Remain Silent About Sexual Abuse’
- Madhusha Dash : ‘Being abused in a land of Values and culture..India and Sexual Violence‘
- Ritu Lalit : ‘The Law is an ass‘
- Aparna Ray (Global Voices) : UNICEF India Sounds the ‘Red Siren’ to #ENDviolence Against Children