News / Africa

Silence Breeds Violence Against Girls in Southern Senegal

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Fearing social stigma, families in Senegal's southern region are remaining silent in the face of widespread sexual violence against girls, says a study released this month.

A study released this month revealed alarming rates of violence against girls aged 10-18 in Senegal's southern regions of Ziguinchor, Kolda and Sédhiou.  Conducted by the U.N. Children's Fund and the University of Ziguinchor, the study says breaking the silence around sexual violence in the region is key to protecting girls.  But a state education worker in the Sédhiou region, Yadicone Sané Diatta, says that too often a family's honor is put ahead of the child's needs.

Diatta says silence to preserve the family's honor often is a family's first reaction when a girl is raped.  She says the girl has perhaps already been promised in marriage, so her family does not want her to be stigmatized by the community.  Diatta says the family prefers to handle it themselves instead of going to the authorities.  It is also not rare, she says, for the perpetrator to be an uncle, cousin or other family member.

Diatta says the silence breeds impunity. She points to one teacher who was imprisoned after impregnating one of his students this year, but cites that as the exception.  Many cases, she says, are not even reported, which just encourages perpetrators.

Head of girl's education for the Ziginchor region, Aminata Traoré, said girls are at risk in schools and in the community.  She says many of the girls attacked are from poor families and they go on the street to sell peanuts and bananas, where they are exposed to risk.  Traoré says there are many cases of these girls being raped.  Also, sometimes the very people who are supposed to be protecting the girls take advantage of them, and the girls become pregnant.

Local education authorities say rates of early marriage and pregnancy among girls aged 10-18 in Senegal's southern regions are alarming. The report pointed to more than 700 girls, from 10-18, who were pregnant in 2009.

Education specialist in the Kolda region, Oumar Diatta, says early pregnancy is a form of violence against girls because it has negative effects on their health, their morality and their education.  The girls are very young, he says, so pregnancy and childbirth, often in rural areas, are difficult and risky.  He also says traditional practices still common in the Kolda region, like female genital mutilation and forced early marriage, constitute forms of violence.

Researchers hope the study will be a call to action for local authorities and international actors to work together to better assist victims and fight violence against children.

UNICEF's head in Ziguinchor, Christina de Bruin, says systems for child protection need to be improved, along with encouraging social change in how people deal with this violence, and reinforcing partnerships and protection systems to deal with emergency cases.  She says this study has helped by collecting the data, and now the need is clear to work to better protect children.  She says prevention is the first step.

Those working on child protection in the region say educating families and children about sexual violence and children's rights is paramount in keeping girls safe.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid