Ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child on the 11th October,  Terre des Hommes has launched the 9th edition of the Indifesa dossier, The condition of the girl child worldwide. The dossier has been developed in the framework of the global Indifesa Campaign launched by Terre des Hommes in 2012. This initiative aims at raising awareness on the need of ensuring education, health and protection from violence, discrimination and abuse for girl children worldwide.

Violence against women and girl children is a grave violation of human rights and a form of discrimination. This is a global problem existing in every region and in different settings including online or in, around and on the way to school. Female genital mutilation (FGM) continues to impact millions girls and women around the world and is often precursor to child, early and forced marriage. Years of global actions to combat FGM had a positive outcome at the start of 2020 but we know that at least 200 million girls and women have been mutilated in the 31 countries that provided this data..

The Coronavirus pandemic is putting more and more girl children at risk of both early marriages and genital mutilation, and is disrupting global efforts to end both practices. Another 13 million girls could be forced to get married and 2 million may undergo FGM over the next decade.

Girls are still too often deprived of their rights such as the fundamental right to manage one’s body and consent to sexual Intercourse. Worldwide, it is estimated that at least 15 million girls (aged 15 to 19) have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other types of sexual abuses at some point in their lives.

The World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap Report (2020) states that gender parity is still a long way away, so much so that it would take just under 100 years to attain it worldwide.

This year the “indifesa” Dossier addresses the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on girl children’s rights, based on the views of girl children gathered across the regions.  There is already a worrying rise in abuse, forced marriages, school dropouts, cyberbullying, online sexual violence and female genital mutilation and the Coronavirus pandemic is putting more and more girls at risk.  This report offers a significant insight into these realities, not to be alarmist, but to try and trigger a strong, coherent and innovative response from the EU, governments and society.

Terre des Hommes welcomes the EU’s intention to develop a comprehensive Child Rights Strategy and calls on the EU to be vocal and speak out for fighting on the Eradication of any form of Violence Against Children, including gender-based violence. Terre des Hommes calls on the EU to support a child protection system-strengthening approach, including prevention and early intervention to tackle all forms of violence against children, within and outside Europe. Ensuring a rights-based meaningful and inclusive participation of children in actions to protect them from violence, exploitation and abuse at local, national and EU level and in partner countries is also key for TDHIF.

Read the full dossier here