Violence against children, youths ‘unacceptably’ high in Iraq: U.N. representatives

A girl waves an Iraqi flag during a protest in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United Nations representatives said on Sunday that violence against children is “unacceptably” high in Iraq, as the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child.

In a joint statement, representatives of UNICEF, UNFPA and OHCHR in Iraq said 80 percent of children and young people were facing violence at home and schools in the country.

“Many girls in Iraq, like millions of girls around the world, suffer from female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual harassment and abuse, and other harmful practices,” the joint statement read.

The representatives further said the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on movement had also elevated risks for girls to be violated and abused.

Twenty-three percent of the incidents of violence reported to the service providers were among children and adolescents, of which six percent were aged between 0 and 11 years, and 17 percent were aged between 12 and 17 years old, according to the GBV Information Management System’s Data of the two quarters of 2020.

The U.N. representatives called on the federal government and civil rights organizations to improve “equal access to quality primary and secondary education including life-skills”.

They also called for the mobilization of girls, boys, parents and leaders through civic and social engagement to challenge discriminate gender norms.

The parliament should also draft and enforce legislation including the anti-domestic violence law and child law to protect girls and prosecute those who harm them.

The representatives also called on the government to increase “availability of child protection services for girls and young women”.

“Girls can be powerful agents of change, and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life,” the joint statement said.

“We must come together and show our commitment by dedicating resources for girls to realize their rights and fulfil their full potential.”

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