Attacks against Schoolgirls on the Rise, UN Says

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The United Nations human rights office on Monday said girls are at an increasing risk of violent attacks simply because they are getting an education.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said: “Many attacks on schools that have been recorded in 70 countries from 2009 to 2014 were specifically targeting girls.

“Recent incidents include 2014 abduction of 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by the extremist Islamic group, Boko Haram.

“The abduction and rape of girls at an Indian Christian school in 2013, and the 2012 Taliban shooting of Pakistani education activist and later Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai.

“Targeted attacks on girls accessing education, their families and their teachers are used to send a powerful, symbolic message about the socio-cultural role and status of girls and women,’’ the UN experts said.

They did not provide statistical data on what they said were increasingly regular attacks.

Their report showed that such violence against girls and their schools and teachers are not always a case of religious extremism.

In several Central American countries such as El Salvador, schoolgirls have been harassed and sexually attacked by criminal gangs.

In southern Thailand, Muslim separatists have attacked schools and teachers not only because they are seen as introducing alien beliefs but also because these institutions represent state power in a primarily Buddhist country.

The report also documented attacks in countries such as Haiti, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“Attacks on girls’ education have a ripple effect,” the UN experts said, warning that such violence pushes girls out of school and raises the risk that they become victims of forced marriage, early pregnancy and sexual exploitation.

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