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Breaking the silence on gender-based violence in schools
By Pi James
NEW YORK, USA, 17 May 2010 – For millions of children worldwide, physical and emotional abuse and gender-based violence are a harsh daily reality.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI), UNICEF Radio moderator Amy Costello spoke with Judith Bruce, Senior Associate and Policy Analyst with the Population Council, and Keyti, a Senegalese rap star, about violence against girls and the role of education.
'Girls don't feel safe'
According to Ms. Bruce, who works with the Population Council's Poverty, Gender and Youth programme, violence targeted at girls is prevalent in communities and schools around the world. Among its many repercussions, violence can have a devastating impact on girls' education.
"We have more than 80 per cent of girls saying that they know that girls are forced to do things they don't want to do for money," Ms. Bruce said. She noted that the ages of rape victims – at least, in cases of rape that are reported – are getting younger.
"Girls don't feel safe," she said. "They don't feel safe at home, they don't feel safe on the way to school and they don't feel safe in school."
'Enough is enough'
Keyti, a renowned rap musician and member of AURA – a network of young West African rap stars who have united to promote children's rights – said that growing up in Senegal, he encountered many social differences between girls and boys. However, he said, this is changing "little by little."
"As a Senegalese boy, I didn't [have] any obligation to participate in the house chores," Keyti said, adding that he recalled his sisters and other girls "always cleaning the houses, always making food, always washing the clothes. As a boy, all I had to do was go outside and play football.
"But more and more, I get the feeling that it's changing in Senegal right now," he said. "Even the government is helping."
Keyti argued that people – and communities as a whole – need to break the silence on violence. "Enough is enough," he said. "If we really want Africa to be developed, we've got to take care of our problems ... and face things as they are."