UN alarmed at rising attacks against schoolgirls

Frank Jordans
Associated Press

Berlin — Girls in at least 70 countries have faced threats, violent attacks and other abuse for trying to go to school over the past five years, the U.N. human rights office said Monday.

A report by the Geneva-based body noted that, despite some progress, girls still face difficulty getting an education in many countries around the world.

“Attacks against girls accessing education persist and, alarmingly, appear in some countries to be occurring with increasing regularity,” the authors found.

The report cites as examples the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria last year, the shooting of education activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012 and the forced removal of girls from schools by the Somali extremist group al-Shabab in 2010.

“According to U.N. sources, more than 3,600 separate attacks against educational institutions, teachers and students were recorded in 2012 alone,” it said.

The authors warned that the attacks have a “ripple effect” that sends a signal to parents of other girls that schools are not safe.

“The removal of girls from education due to fears for their security and concerns about their subsequent marriageability may result in additional human rights violations such as child and forced marriage, domestic violence, early pregnancy, exposure to other harmful practices, trafficking and sexual and labor exploitation,” the report said.

The authors concluded that attacks against schoolgirls can’t be prevented without addressing broader patterns of violence and discrimination against women and girls. They recommended devoting more money to helping that ensure girls can go to school without the threat of violence and promoting the benefits that universal access to education has for society as a whole.