Girls in 70 countries attacked for seeking to access education: UN report

Girls in 70 countries attacked for seeking to access education: UN report
Girls in 70 countries attacked for seeking to access education: UN report
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The News Minute | February 11, 2015 | 01:11 pm IST

Between 2009-2014, girls in 70 countries have been attacked for wanting to go to school, 'with a number of these attacks being specifically directed at girls , parents and teachers advocating for gender equality in education', states a recent United Nations human rights report.

The report, which seeks to analyse how systemic gender-discrimination against girls trying to get an education is rampant across countries, notes that 'attacks against girls accessing education are being documented with increasing regularity'.

Some of the events highlighted in the report include the massacre of over 100 children in a Pakistani Taliban attack at an army school in Peshawar in December 2014, the abduction of nearly 300 school girls in April 2014 by the Boko Haram movement in northeast Nigeria, the 2012 shooting of education activist Malala Yousafzai by members of the Taliban in Pakistan, several incidents of poisoning and acid attacks against school girls in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2014, the reported forced removal of girls from schools in Somalia to become ‘wives’ of Al-Shabaab fighters in 2010, and the abduction and rape of girls at a Christian school in India in July 2013.

  • According to United Nations’ sources, more than 3,600 separate attacks against educational institutions, teachers and students were recorded in 2012 alone. 
  • It is estimated that in 2009, the Taliban’s attacks and violent threats against girls, their families and teachers, resulted in 120,000 female students and 8,000 women teachers ceasing to attend schools in the Swat district.
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has documented cases of girls accessing education who have been the targets of sexual violence, threats and harassment by members of criminal gangs in several Central American countries such as El Salvador.
  • In Mali, girls have been targeted for sexual and other forms of violence in schools for failing to adhere to strict dress requirements imposed by armed groups.
  • Attacks involving sexual violence against teachers and girls in educational facilities or during the journey to or from them have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, the Philippines and Syria.

Apart from targeted attacks, girls are also subjected to sexual violence and other forms of discrimination across the world which limits them from exercising their right to education.

Though girls in conflict area are more likely to affected by such violence, the causes however, for the attacks on their education may vary.

The report cites the example of the Lords’ Resistance Army which abducted and forcibly recruited secondary school girls in northern Uganda into the armed forces, 'as their superior literacy and numeracy made them valuable recruits for military communications work'.

Noting that attacks on girls' education have a 'ripple effect', the report mentions that it not only affects the lives and families of the girls but also sends 'a signal to other parents and guardians that schools are not safe places for girls'. 

Girls are often removed from schools due to fear for their safety and are married early- this 'may result in additional human rights violations such as child and forced marriage, domestic violence, early pregnancy, exposure to other harmful practices, trafficking and sexual and labour exploitation'.

Read the full report here.

(Images for representation purpose)

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