9 September 2014: Girls around the world are ashamed of telling anyone about the sexual violence and other abuses they endure, reveals a new Plan report.
More than 7,000 young people from some of the poorest regions of the world have spoken out in ‘Hear Our Voices’ - one of the largest studies of adolescent girls’ rights of its kind.
Girls say that they feel voiceless in the face of violence, and many expect to be victims because of their gender.
“Girls want to have more self-confidence to not feel afraid or ashamed to express their feeling and needs,” says one girl from Ecuador.
“I feel that I will be embarrassed by anything I say, so I don’t speak at all,” says another girl from Egypt.
Silence through intimidation
The study's results show that thousands of girls are constantly limited by sexual violence and other injustices - including sexual harassment, rape, sexual and economic exploitation and abuse, forced marriage through blackmailing and efforts to silence them through intimidation.
However, girls are largely unable to tell anyone about their problems, and feel ashamed of the challenges they face.
- 1 in 3 girls said they never speak up in front of boys
- half of girls never or seldom get to decide if they become pregnant
- 58% of girls never or seldom return to school after having a child.
World first study
Sarah Hendriks, Global Gender Equality & Inclusion Advisor for Plan’s Because I am a Girl programmes, said:
“This study is of enormous importance, highlighting the real challenges and barriers girls all over the world face.
"Whether they are burdened with housework that prevents them attending school or at risk of teenage pregnancy and sexual assault, girls are being abused and limited every day, and this is the first time we have really heard from so many girls on these topics.”
Violence against girls entrenched
Plan's ‘Hear Our Voices’ study shows that violence against girls is frighteningly entrenched.
“The levels of sexual violence and abuse being experienced by girls the world over is shocking,” adds Hendriks.
“We now have compelling evidence which we hope will spur policy makers into action on improving the lives of girls.”