Violence against Children threatens not only children’s survival and health but also their emotional well-being and future prospects. Violence against children is widespread and pervasive and remains a harsh reality for millions of children in South Asia. Over half of the world’s children experienced severe violence last year of whom 64 per cent are in South Asia. Violence can be physical, sexual, and emotional and also manifest itself as neglect. It can occur in homes, schools, care and justice systems, workplaces and communities.
Perpetrators include parents, family members, teachers, caretakers, law enforcement authorities and other children. Violence can be interpersonal and also a result of structures that allow or promote violent behaviour.
- In Afghanistan, 74 per cent of girls and boys aged 2-14 experienced some form of violent discipline.
- More than 70 per cent of adolescent girls aged 15-19 in Bhutan believe wife-beating is justified under certain circumstances.
- In Sri Lanka, nearly one-third of the 15,000 legal trials pending nation-wide involve some form of violence towards a child.
- In Bangladesh, 47 per cent of married girls aged 15-19 who have experienced physical or sexual violence did so through their partners or husbands.
- In India, 9 per cent of girls and women aged 15-49 reported having experienced sexual violence including forced sexual intercourse and other sexual acts; for many women this occurs at a young age with up to 5 percent of 15-19-year-olds having experienced the same.
- In the Maldives, more than 17 per cent of adolescent boys in grades 8 to 10 reported that they were physically forced to have sex.
- Violence towards children with disabilities is also of concern across South Asia as disabled children often face severe discrimination, are much less likely to be in school, and are more likely to be victims of sexual, physical and verbal violence.
As internet access expands, violence against children is finally taking on new dimensions such as cyber-bullying and online sexual exploitation, with damaging and life-changing consequences. Many countries of the region are highly vulnerable to natural hazards. The risks of violence especially increase during emergencies that weaken the abilities of families and communities to protect children. Girls, in particular, face grave risks of gender-based violence during emergencies.