More than three fourths of all girls aged between 15 and 19 in India have been subjected to sexual violence by their spouses, according to a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The report, titled ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence Against Children’, also said that half of all Indian girls in their late teens faced physical abuse at the hands of their parents.
UNICEF said that violence against children is so deeply ingrained in certain societies, particularly in the developing world, that violence against children is often accepted as the norm.
The report said that 77% of girls aged 15 to 19 years in India have at least once experienced forced sexual intercourse or any other forced sexual acts by their current husband or partner.
Partner violence is also pervasive across the South Asian region, where at least one in five girls who have ever been married or in union experienced partner violence.
The report adds that in India 34% of ever-married girls aged 15 to 19 years have experienced some form of physical, sexual or emotional violence committed by their husbands or partners.
The report added that about 21% of girls aged 15 to 19 in India had experienced physical violence since age 15.
Meanwhile, girls who had not been married, faced violence at the hands of other family members, including widespread abuse perpetrated by mothers and step-mothers.
In India, 41% of girls aged 15 to 19 years had experienced physical violence since age 15 by a female parent while 18% had been subjected to physical violence by their fathers and step-fathers.
The report also noted that 41-60% girls aged 15 to 19 think that a husband or partner is “justified in hitting or beating his wife or partner” under some circumstances.
The report, which draws on data from 190 countries, found that about two-thirds of children worldwide or almost one billion between ages 2 and 14 are subjected to physical punishment by their caregivers on a regular basis.
The data revealed that whilst the US leads Western nations in child homicide rates, India had the third highest number of young homicide victims in 2012.
Nearly 9,400 children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years were killed in India in 2012.
In the same year, murders claimed the lives of more than 95,000 children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 around the world – almost one in five of all homicide victims.
Although most of the young homicide victims (around 85,000 or 90 percent) came from low and middle income countries, such as in Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States took the top spot among 34 Western democracies, with an average of four adolescent homicides per 100,000 people in 2012.
“If there is one common aspect of human society right now, it is the fact that tremendous violence is committed against children,” Susan Bissell, chief of the child protection unit at UNICEF said in a press release.
“We’re not talking about a little smack on the bottom,” Bissell told AP.
“We’re talking about a blunt instrument, and repeated.”
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said violence against children occurred “in places where children should be safe, their homes, schools and communities.
Increasingly, it happens over the internet, and it’s perpetrated by family members and teachers, neighbors and strangers and other children.”