Putting a stop to sexual violence against girls
New initiative with leading public and private sector organisations launched at Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.
NEW YORK/KUALA LUMPUR, 25 September 2009 – A new approach to address the rights violations and health impacts of sexual violence against girls is set to take off with a multi-sector partnership organised via the Clinton Global Initiative.
The initiative’s partners are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNIFEM, WHO and private sector supporters. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is also part of the program.
“All these organisations are joining together to fight sexual violence against girls,” said Former US President Bill Clinton. “They will gather new data in seven countries across Asia and Africa, and develop communications strategies to reach millions more through awareness and advocacy campaigns.”
World Health Organization data reveal some 150 million girls globally experienced some form of sexual violence with physical contact in 2002. In Malaysia, the number of reported cases of child sexual abuse almost tripled between 1997 and 2005. Girls comprised 92 per cent of the reported cases.
HIV risk increases with forced sex
“Sexual violence against children is a gross violation of their rights, a moral and ethical outrage and an assault on the world’s conscience,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Sexual abuse can lead to lost childhoods, abandoned education, physical and emotional problems, the spread of HIV, and an often irrevocable loss of dignity and self-esteem.”
Research demonstrates that sexual violence against girls is a direct and an indirect driver of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Evidence shows that the risk of HIV infection is increased following forced sex, especially among children.
Gender inequity and partner violence are associated with a substantial part of new HIV infections in Africa, and girls who have experienced sexual coercion are less likely to use condoms and more likely to experience STIs. Stopping sexual violence also helps to protect girls from unwanted pregnancies and the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV.
Beating violence with multiple strategies
The initiative partners are working together to:
§ Provide funding to CDC and UNICEF to expand surveillance of sexual violence against girls in developing and emerging countries;
§ Develop a technical package of interventions for implementation at a country level to reduce the incidence of sexual violence against girls, based on data obtained and proven intervention strategies; and,
§ Prepare and launch a major media campaign to elevate awareness of this problem and motivate social and behavioral change.
These three intervention strategies are pillars of what is expected to emerge as a global movement to address this devastating human injustice and public health problem.
In Malaysia, UNICEF’s Representative Youssouf Oomar welcomed the new initiative to protect girls and boys from such injustices, citing awareness and community education as critical elements to create change.
“No child should have to endure abuse, let alone sexual abuse,” said Youssouf. “Let us put a stop to this heinous crime once and for all. With better surveillance and data, more targeted efforts to protect children can be put in place. Educating parents and communities are good places to start!”
A Study on Violence Against Girls
Innocenti Research Centre, 2009. Read
Say No to Violence Against Children
Newsline: Sexual abuse