Every day, girls face being assaulted on their way to school, pushed and hit in school grounds, teased and insulted by their classmates, and humiliated by having rumours about them circulated through whisper campaigns, mobile phones or the internet.
“Violence against women by men continues to cause more casualties than wars do today” Millennium Project, 2007 State of the Future1 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.
However, girls are more likely to be the victims of certain types of violence, such as sexual harassment and sexual assault, which undermine their self-esteem, educational success and long-term health and well-being.
SS_Book_Print: Blank 21/1/08 Page ii © AI SS_Book_Print: Blank 21/1/08 Page iii CONTENTS one/Introduction Education is a human right Inequality and inaction The time for action is now two/Acknowledge the harm, reduce the damage Physical injuries and harm Sexual abuse and exploitation Emotional and psychological damage HIV prevention impaired three/Making schools safer – where are the dangers?
The journey to school At school, at risk Violence as punishment Schools in conflict zones Cyberspace four/Risk factors for violence and exclusion Discriminatory attitudes Escalating behaviour School fees 1 2 4 8 13 14 16 21 21 25 25 29 33 35 42 43 43 46 50 five/No excuses for inaction 52 six/International standards 55 Millennium Development Goals seven/Amnesty International’s Six Steps to Stop Violence Against Schoolgirls Endnotes 58 60 62 SS_Book_Print: Blank 21/1/08 Page iv © 2004 Roobon/The Hunger Project-Bangladesh, Courtesy of Photoshare iv Safe schools: every girl’s right SS_Book_Print: Blank 21/1/08 Page 1 ONE/INTRODUCTION When a girl grabs her book bag and puts on her uniform to run off to school in the morning, she looks forward to having fun with her schoolmates, learning new skills, exploring the world under the guidance of a thoughtful teacher, and playing games on the sports fields. Does she instead fear for her safety, dread humiliating and violent treatment, and simply hope to get through another day? The same forms of violence which women suffer throughout their lives – physical, sexual and psychological – are present in the lives of girls in and around their schools.
Amnesty International 1 SS_Book_Print: Blank 21/1/08 Page 2 Certain girls face an increased risk of violence at school because of who they are.
Lesbian girls, for example, experience both sexism and homophobia combined.