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Protecting girls from sexual violence: A call for collective responsibility and action

MEDIA STATEMENT
#ENDviolence


KUALA LUMPUR, 2 June 2014 - UNICEF Malaysia is deeply disturbed and saddened by the gang rape of one, possibly, two teenage girls in Kelantan recently.

This case is not an isolated incident of violence against girls, but adds to an overall increase in cases of child abuse over the past few years.

Statistics from the Department of Social Welfare indicate that cases of child abuse, especially sexual abuse and neglect, have increased from 2,789 in 2009 to 3,428 in 2011. This increase is alarming. It is all the more worrying given that the social stigma attached to being a rape survivor means that many such cases remain unreported.

UNICEF lauds the immediate action of the authorities with regards to this case and overall Government efforts to combat violence and sexual abuse of children.

However, the gruesome and disturbing nature of this case highlights a collective need to identify and address the underlying causes of violence against girls. Specifically, there is a need to address gender stereotypes, including attitudes and beliefs that condone violence and perpetuate harmful constructions of masculinity.

The adoption of prevention and intervention approaches that engage with all segments of society, including men and boys, is critical to the protection of all children, and in particular to girls who are disproportionately affected by sexual violence.


UNICEF National Ambassadors Upin and Ipin call on boys and men to respect and protect girls and women.

Efforts to prevent violence against children, and in particular girls, must be accelerated. Other measures should include the provision of life skills and reproductive health education for adolescents in schools, as well as more robust implementation of policies and legal frameworks, along with increased access to justice.

Finally, we reiterate the necessity for all perpetrators to be brought to justice in accordance with the law. In the case of child offenders, all efforts should be made to ensure that they are treated in a manner that complies with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other international standards overseeing juvenile justice.

As we commemorate 25 years of the landmark international treaty known as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and as Malaysia prepares to mark 20 years of its commitment to the CRC next year, we reiterate our conviction that no child in Malaysia should be subjected to the devastating physical and emotional scourge that abuse inflicts.

Above all, we call for a commitment from all stakeholders to join in creating a safe environment for every girl and boy in this country. UNICEF stands ready to provide support to the Government and civil society to address violence against all children.

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For more information, please contact:

Sasha Surandran
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
+6019 658 5160, ssurandan@unicef.org

 

 

 

 

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