The Largest Ever Data Compilation Shows 120 Million Girls Were Forced To Have Sex

One in ten girls has been sexually assaulted. Six in ten children are regularly beaten by their caregivers. Half of all girls between the ages of 15 and 19 believe a man is “justified” in hitting his wife. Nearly one in five homicide victims are children.

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According to the UN, one in 10 girls around the world - or about 120 million in total - have been forced to have intercourse or take part in other sexual acts, with rates higher in sub-Saharan Africa than other regions

About one in 10 girls had experienced rape or sexual assault by the age of 20, the UN says

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Drawing on data from 190 countries, a report by the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls under 18 are current or former husbands, boyfriends and partners.

The study, which sifted through the biggest ever compilation of data on violence against children, also found that one in five murder victims were children or adolescents under 20.

Homicide was the leading cause of death among males aged 10 to 19 in Panama, Venezuela, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Guatemala and Colombia

Homicide is the leading cause of death among young males in many Latin American countries, the UN says

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"Violence against children occurs every day, everywhere: the slaps of an upset parent to control an 'unruly' child, the sexual victimisation of a teenager by a peer or a neighbour, the bullying of one child by another in the schoolyard, the emotional degradation of a child bride by her spouse," the report said.

"Too many children worldwide are affected by such violence, yet it is rarely acknowledged, in part because it is so commonplace. The repercussions are not inconsequential, with ripple effects throughout society as well as future generations," it added.

The largest-ever compilation of data on violence against children shows the staggering extent of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and reveals the attitudes that perpetuate and justify violence, keeping it 'hidden in plain sight' in every country and community in the world

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A higher proportion of girls, compared to the global average, reported being forced to have sex in 13 of the 18 sub-Saharan African countries surveyed: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Zambia, Gabon, Tanzania, Liberia, Rwanda and Kenya.

UNICEF said boys experience sexual violence too, but to a far lesser extent than girls

A UNICEF report finds shocking levels of violence against children worldwide.

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The report also covered physical punishment, finding that almost 1 billion children aged between two and 14 are subjected to violent discipline by their parents or guardians on a regular basis. It also showed that more than one in three students aged 13 to 15 experience routine bullying, while almost a third of students aged 11 to 15 in Europe and North America admitted bullying others.

Close to half of all adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 (around 126 million) believe a husband is justified in hitting his wife under certain circumstances

Close to half of all adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 (around 126 million) believe a husband is justified in hitting his wife under certain circumstances. The proportion rises to 80 per cent or more in Afghanistan, Guinea, Jordan, Mali and Timor-Leste.

In 28 of 60 countries with data on both sexes, a larger proportion of girls than boys believe that wife-beating is sometimes justified. In Cambodia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Rwanda and Senegal, girls are around twice as likely as boys to think a husband is sometimes justified in hitting his wife.

Violence against children was occurring in places where children should be safe - in their communities, schools and homes, UNICEF said

The study said cyber-victimisation was the most common form of sexual violence for both genders

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"Increasingly, it happens over the internet, and it's perpetrated by family members and teachers, neighbours and strangers and other children," the BBC quoted UNICEF's executive director Anthony Lake as saying.

It noted that while there had been growing recognition in recent years about the impact of violence against children, it largely remained under-reported and undocumented

The report stressed that violence against children in some countries remained socially accepted or tacitly condoned, and quite often victims were too afraid to report the abuse.

Never before have so many statistics been gathered from so many different countries, and together they have produced a grim global audit of violence against children, the BBC's Nick Bryant at the UN says.

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