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Publication: From Invisible to Indivisible

From Invisible to Indivisible - Promoting and Protecting the Right of the Girl Child to be Free from Violence
In follow-up to the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children

Violence against women has been described as “one of the most universal and unpunished crimes of all.” This statement is perhaps nowhere more relevant than in reference to violence against the girl child: Across the world, the double burden of being both female and young relegates millions of girls to the margins of society where, unseen and unheard, their rights are disregarded and their safety is denied.

This is all the more true in West and Central Africa, where the implications of this invisibility are particularly enormous.

In addition to providing background information on the scope of violence against girls, this report attempts to take the Secretary-General’s studies one step further in their promotion of the right of the girl child by presenting specific policy and programmatic recommendations related to ending violence against girls. At the heart of these recommendations is the recognition that any efforts to address girls’ needs must include strategies for girls’ participation, such that they are empowered to claim their full rights, thus becoming agents of change in their own lives and in the lives of others.

Overview of Violence against girls in West and Central Africa

Violence against girls in schools
Beyond the use of violence as " discipline" in the region, girl pupils are exposed to sexual abuse, violence and exploitation in schools ( seduction of girls by teachers; good marks in exchange for sexual acts; verbal harassment of girls by boys....)

Violence against girls in the work settings
Significant numbers of girls in West and Central Africa are exploited in domestic labour and victims of violence in their work setting (long working hours, physical, sexual and psychological violence). This is a huge problem which is difficult to address because domestic violence is hidden from public view.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
It is a violation of girls’ human rights, a harmful tradition practiced throughout the region. Although there are efforts to support the abandonment of this practice, this phenomenon persists and it is very difficult to address because FGM/C is a social convention

Early Marriage
Many girls in West and Central Africa are married before they turn 18. According to "UNICEF, Early marriage: a harmful traditional practice. A statistical exploration, 2005" the proportion of girls aged 15-19 currently in union is very high in the region. Some examples: Niger 59.9%, Mali 45.9%, Chad 46.7% and Guinea 43.9% .








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