About 77 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 19 in India have been subjected to sexual violence by their spouses, according to a report by UNICEF which said more than half of the girls in the age group faced physical abuse at the hands of their parents.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report titled “Hidden in plain sight” said violence against children is so prevalent and deeply ingrained in societies that it is often unseen and accepted as the norm.
The report said that 77 per cent 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 in South Asia, where at least one in five girls who have ever been married or in union experienced partner violence.
In this region, the prevalence of partner violence is particularly high in Bangladesh and India.
The report said that in India 34 per cent 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 per cent of girls aged 15 to 19 in India had experienced physical violence since age 15.
It said the identity of the most common perpetrator varied by the marital status of the victim.
“Not surprisingly, among ever-married girls who experienced physical violence since age 15, a current or former partner was cited most often in all of the countries,” it said.
The report further added that girls who had not been married were most likely to report physical violence at the hands of family members, friends, acquaintances and teachers.
The most commonly reported perpetrator was the victim’s mother or stepmother, with over half of single girls reporting this in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Haiti, India, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Timor-Leste.
In India, 41 per cent of girls aged 15 to 19 years had experienced physical violence since age 15 by their mother or step-mother while 18 per cent had been subjected to physical violence by their fathers and step-fathers.
India also 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.
The report also noted that 41-60 per cent girls aged 15 to 19 years 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.