On the eve of Women’s Day celebrations across the world, it’s time to reflect on gender based violence in South Asia which has reached the world stage once again. Girls and women continue to be the victims of violence and it is their perceived low status in society that allows the violence to continue.
The vast majority of violent deaths among adolescent girls worldwide occur in South Asia. 29,300 girls aged 10 to 18 years died from violent causes in 2012 – a staggering figure. And this goes too often unnoticed, because many cases are not reported and the accused are rarely prosecuted.
Child marriage is another issue that affects South Asia where 46% of girls marry before 18, and one in five marry before 15. Child marriage is not only a rights violation in itself, it also hinders the enjoyment – particularly for girls – of protection, participation, education, health and the development of their full potential.
Despite attempts to prevent sex selection, the practice continues at a large scale.
Far too many girls and women are victims of all sorts of violence, far too many girls get married, and far too many girls are never born.
What is stopping us from ending violence against girls and women? The answer is our mindset. We need to change it. We need to see women as citizens who can make decisions that can impact their own lives. My hope is that we celebrate 8 March next year with lots of successes to report.
Happy Women’s Day!
Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia