Every little girl has the right to live free from violence, discrimination, intimidation and abuse. Today, however, violence denies millions of girls around the world this right: it continues to be one of the most persistent, systematic and widespread violations of human rights. For this reason, on the International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated on the 11th of October, Entreculturas has launched La Luz de las Niñas, “to make visible the equality suffered by girls, protect them against violence, value their ability to choose their future and take action to transform the sources of injustices towards them”, in the words of Raquel Martín, Director of Communication and Institutional Development.
240 million girls see their lives threatened by violence, more than 200 million girls in the world have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). Every year, 12 million girls are married before they turn 18. Over 150 million suffer sexual violence, and 34.2 million girls and women are refugees or have been displaced. These forms of violence towards girls leave serious psychological, physical and social scars that stay with them forever, and push them away from school, their childhood, and opportunities.
Sifa Kaite, Child Protection Coordinator of the Jesuit Refugee Service Chad, spoke about her work, to do with the various forms of violence faced by girls in the refugee camps, which she says are “countless”, highlighting “FGM, forced marriage, child marriage, household chores, dropping out of school, and sexual violence”. All of these harmful practices represent a serious violation of these girls’ human rights, curtailing their self-esteem and development, and hindering their continued education.
Sofía Gutiérrez, Head of Public Action at Fe y Alegría Guatemala, knows the reality faced by girls in her country, which is heavily affected by high rates of sexual violence, pregnancies and early marriage, which are more prevalent among the indigenous population. “The work of La Luz de las Niñas in Guatemala focuses on preventing violence and creating safe spaces for girls in schools”.
“We want their light to shine. Girls have the right to a childhood with equal opportunity, without fear, threats and aggressions. Education can defend them, protect their rights, transform their lives”, said Raquel Martín at the campaign launch.
This English translation has been possible thanks to the PerMondo project: Free translation of website and documents for non-profit organisations. A project managed by Mondo Agit. Translator: Phoebe Thomas