Daily terror stops girls attending school, says Amnesty report

Amnesty International outlines plan to ensure the safety of schoolgirls across the world

A comprehensive study by Amnesty International published today (6 March 2008) reveals that thousands of girls all over the world are terrified of going to school – simply because they fear for their own safety.

The study reveals that the same fear also discourages parents from sending girls to school, which serves only to add to the already low levels of girls’ educational participation in some regions.

The report entitled Safe Schools – Every Girl’s Right (PDF), highlights case studies and statistics from across the globe.

  • According to the World Health Organisation, the most common place where sexual harassment and coercion are experienced is in school
  • 50% of schoolgirls in Malawi said they had been touched in a sexual manner “without permission, by either their teachers or fellow schoolboys”.
  • In Afghanistan burning down girls’ schools has become increasingly common. At least 172 violent attacks on schools took place in the first six months of 2006
  • 83% of girls in public schools in the US aged from 12 to 16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment
  • 14,000 schoolgirls in Tanzania were expelled from school between 2003 and 2006 because they were pregnant
  • 50% of Zimbabwean junior secondary girls reported unsolicited contact on the way to school by strangers
  • In Latin America, sexual harassment in schools has been found to be widespread in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama
  • A seven-year survey of 3,000 Children's rights in the UK found more than half had experienced bullying or assault

Heather Harvey, Amnesty International’s Women's rights's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights campaigner, said:

“Every day, girls face being assaulted on their way to school or inside school premises. Some are threatened with sexual assault by other students, offered higher marks by teachers in exchange for sexual favours, even raped in the staff room.

“Many face psychological torture – bullying and humiliation. Some are caned or beaten in school in the name of discipline.

“The result is that countless girls are kept out of school, drop out of school, or do not fully participate in school.

“Every girl has a right to education in a safe environment. We demand that countries take immediate action to fulfil their international commitments and make schools safe for girls.”

A raft of international legal standards exist (UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on Economic and Social Rights) which provide for an equal right to education for all. Amnesty International wants to see these rights made a reality for girls.

Amnesty International is calling on government officials and bodies, including schools, in collaboration with all relevant parties, to take a range of measures from broad prohibitions on all forms of violence against girls to practical and detailed measures such as developing and enforcing codes of conduct for staff and students.

  • Read the report (PDF)
  • More about our campaign to Women's rights's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights

View latest press releases