According to the article “Convention on the Rights of the Child”(20 November 1989) 1, a child is defined as every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority (or adult ‘status’) is attained earlier; in other words, unless the relevant laws recognize an earlier age. Issues like gender discrimination, domestic violence, sexual abuse, child labour, human trafficking, health and education, just to name a few, tend to be adversely skewed when closely examining the life of the girl child. There has been extensive researches carried out and we have lots of information available on challenges facing women and children in general but not enough research has been carried out or documented on the plight of the girl child. Continual abuse of the girl child in society, according to Larkin (1994)2, causes the girl child to become increasingly desensitized to pervasive harassment and abuse to the point where they persistently fail to identify verbal forms of abuse. Instead they limit definitions of abuse to rape and other violent forms of interference. The impact is to further minimize and conceal the everyday experiences of violence in the life of the girl child. The various challenges that face these essential members of our society are discussed below, and the appropriate recommendations provide thereafter. It is important to note that all the factors in discussion end up intertwining one to another in different degrees. The root cause of the woes of the girl child arguably comes out strongly as gender discrimination. CHALLENGES
Gender discrimination, or sex discrimination, is characterized by the unequal treatment of a person based solely on that person's gender3. Looking at the marginalized groups, it’s worthy to note that if women suffer from discrimination and their needs and problems go unnoticed, the situation is even worse for girls. Yet, as a specific population group, girls are insufficiently covered in national statistics. In the documentation that does exist, most of the available research done on children does not get broken further by gender, making analysis difficult. Child Labor
Child labour is to a great extent caused by poverty; as explained in a study by UNICEF 4 it’s largely demand-driven, and is part of a large unmet demand for labour that is cheap and malleable. Child labour is attractive not because it is cheap, but rather because children are easier to abuse, less assertive and less able to claim their rights than adults; they can be made to work longer hours with less food, poor accommodation and no benefits. Citing a good example, according to a research presented by the ILO-IPEC Panel Discussion 5, ILO researchers found that violence against working children worldwide is often "part of a collective workplace culture of physical brutality, shouting, bad language, and casual violence, including sexual harassment, and in extreme cases, even rape or murder". These dramatically affect girls more, who are often performing economic or non-economic activities, out of sight. The cycle of violence often pushes girls into situations of despair, increasing their vulnerability to the worst forms of child labour, sexual abuse, as well as driving them to commercial sex and forcing them to often take refuge in the streets. Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse
While reliable statistics are hard to come by, studies estimate that, from country to country, between 20 and 50 per cent of girls have experienced physical violence at the hands of any family member.6 To quote an instance, the abuse of children, especially those with disabilities, that takes place in the home and is often invisible and left unpunished. Most violations and abuse are not reported partly because the nature of the girl child is mainly withdrawal when intimidated, or negative self-image and blame. The demonstrated lack of follow-through and trust in other family...
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