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Nearly one in four adolescent girls experience physical violence

2014-10-10

Alarming levels of acceptance of violence against girls  

TORONTO, October 10, 2014 – Ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child, UNICEF is issuing a new compilation of data revealing the magnitude of violence against adolescent girls and the alarming attitudes that perpetuate such abuse. 

The compilation incorporates a selection of global data released throughout the year, detailing the very real impact violence has on adolescent girls, their futures, and that of their communities and countries.

Key statistics include:

  • Almost one quarter of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide (approximately 70 million) report being victims of some form of physical violence since age 15.
  • Around 120 million girls under the age of 20 worldwide (about 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts, and one in three ever-married adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 (84 million) have been victims of emotional, physical or sexual violence committed by their husbands or partners.
  • Data suggest that in some countries, as many as seven in 10 girls aged 15 to 19 who had been victims of physical and/or sexual abuse had never sought help: many said they did not think it was abuse or did not see it as a problem.
  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. More than one in three (about 250 million) entered into union before age 15.

The data reveal damaging perceptions on the acceptability of violence, particularly among girls. Globally nearly half of girls aged 15 to 19 believe a man is justified in beating his wife or partner under certain circumstances such as refusing to have sex, leaving the house without permission, arguing, neglecting the children or burning the dinner.

“These numbers speak to a mindset that tolerates, perpetuates, and even justifies violence – and should sound an alarm to everyone, everywhere,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta.

UNICEF points to specific actions to prevent violence against girls. They include: keeping girls in school; providing them with critical life skills; supporting parents, including with cash transfers to mitigate risks to girls; changing attitudes and norms through community conversations; and strengthening judicial, criminal and social systems and services.

“The problem is global but the solutions must be found at the national, community and family level. We have a responsibility to protect, educate, and empower adolescents. We are all accountable for ending violence against girls,” said Rao Gupta.

Read Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children
http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_74865.html

Access broadcast quality b-roll and images http://weshare.unicef.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2AM4080YD7CZ&PBC=:2AM4080YD7CZ

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About the #ENDViolence initiative

UNICEF launched the initiative on 31 July 2013 to urge collective action to end violence against children, highlighting the fact that violence is everywhere, but often happens out of sight or is tolerated due to social and cultural norms. Under the banner ‘Make the invisible, visible’, the initiative aims to raise awareness as a first step toward modifying attitudes, behaviours and policies. The initiative also supports efforts to build evidence of what works, and reinforces the idea that violence can be prevented by highlighting successful efforts and movements at all levels of society. Some 70 countries from every region of the world have formally joined #ENDviolence, strengthening efforts to identify, track and report violence against children in all its forms.
For more information visit: http://www.unicef.org/endviolence/

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.