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Girls at risk

For centuries, women and girls have remained victims of violence perpetrated against them primarily by men based on their gender. It is hard to believe that in the 21st century when we are seeing improvements in technological advances, new ways of working, easy movement across continents, violence against women and girls continue to be the greatest threat to their lives. Nations worldwide have enacted rules and legislation that criminalise violence against women, but a lot remains to be done to protect and safeguard women and girls.e the greatest threat to their lives. Nations worldwide have enacted rules and legislation that criminalise violence against women, but a lot remains to be done to protect and safeguard women and girls.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO, June 2022) statistics, women aged between 15-49 years are prone to violence and have been known to be subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partners in their lifetime since the age of 15. The report states that intimate partner violence ranges from 20% in the Western Pacific, 22% in high-income countries and Europe and 25% in the WHO Regions of the Americas to 33% in the WHO African region. It further sates that 31% in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region, and 33% in the WHO South-East Asia region have been victims.

In Kenya, Bawso is working with a local charity, Christian partners development Agency (CPDA) to address gender-based violence.  Country specific statistics shared with us by our partners highlight a disturbing increase in the number of underage pregnancies. Pregnancy rates in Kenya are 3rd highest globally with 1 out of 5 teenage mothers being aged between 10 and 19 years according to a 2019 report by Global Childhood Kenya. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that 378,397 pregnancies were of teenage and adolescent girls aged 10-19.

The COVID 19 pandemic worsened the situation as 16% of girls did not report back to school in January 2021 when schools re-opened (population council, 2021).  Of the 4% of the 15-19 girls who were pregnant and married, 32% got married during COVID 19 and 16% claimed that they would not have been married if it were not for COVID 19 while 24% stated that it was not their choice to get married.

In Wales, the BBC report (2018) also highlighted cases of teenage girls who experience forms of abuse on the streets, open spaces, school or institutions. The report shows that a third of girls are harassed in public while wearing school uniforms; 2/3 have received unwanted sexual attention and 66% experienced unwanted sexual attention or physical contact in public.

Violence against girls is a global phenomenon and it happens within the confines of their homes where they are supposed to be safe, in public places and institutions. Violence manifested in physical abuse, acts of controlling behaviour, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced early marriages, forced marriage, domestic abuse, financial, emotional, among others.

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