Let’s hear it for the girls!
Since 2012, the 11th of October has been celebrated as the International Day of the Girl. The aim: to raise global issues specifically related to girls.
The global issues
One in five adolescent girls around the world are denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, conflict and discrimination. In Afghanistan, girls technically have the right to have an education but face constant and dangerous obstacles, from vicious, militant attacks, a lack of adequate facilities and teachers, and even their own parents’ reluctance to break from the tradition that says “girls belong at home.” Similarly, the high rate of child marriage in countries such as Niger, Chad and Mali means many girls never have the opportunity to go to school or are forced to drop out of school at a young age. Child marriage is a very dangerous practice that can rob a girl of future opportunities and cause severe health problems. Child brides often suffer from domestic violence and endure forced sex.
Another form of gender-based violence happens even before birth. Female infanticide is the practice of selective abortion once the sex of the child is determined. In India, where boys are valued over girls, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of girls under the age of seven in the national census.
In the developed world, approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Furthermore, a ‘rape culture’ has grown which normalizes, trivializes and eroticizes male violence against women. Victim blaming is a part of ‘rape culture’ and involves condemning a victim for what she was wearing at the time of her attack or questioning whether a victim drank too much at a party where she was raped. Essentially, this is society making excuses for rape.
So, what action is being taken to deal with these issues? In terms of education, the right of girls to receive an education was propelled by Malala Yousafzi, who after being shot by the Taliban for her advocacy of this issue, gave it a global focus. Malala’s message now extends far beyond the border of Pakistan, and her voice speaks for the millions of girls who are deprived of an education.
To combat the rape culture of the developed world, SlutWalk D.C. is an annual rally and protest through Washington, D.C. aiming to stop victim blaming by confronting attitudes that victims have “asked for it” by their actions or clothing. There are also similar rallies through other major cities in the West.
Written by: Kay Currey
Proofread by: Rumal Siriwardena