The latest Unicef report has said physical and sexual abuse of adolescents by people within the family was rampant in India and other Asian and Pacific countries. The report said interpersonal violence was pervasive in the lives of teenagers.
The report, which was prepared for a high-level meeting of South-South Cooperation for Child Rights in Asia and the Pacific held this week in New Delhi, said violence “can occur at home, before and after marriage and it affects both boys and girls.”
It also pointed out how such incidents have reached an alarmingly high level. “In some context, gang-rape of adolescent girls in cities has become frighteningly common, a manifestation of peer pressure and perverse notions of masculinity, as much as a consequence of law enforcement failure and patriarchal norms,” it said.
“Many homeless adolescents said they left home to escape beatings. Child brides were subjected to high levels of violence by their husbands, and they often suffered physical and mental torture from their in-laws too,” it added.
Unicef also identified state-sanctioned violence as a major issue, especially for boys.
The report severely criticised the juvenile justice system and said criticism hardly inspired any change.
“The juvenile justice system is a major forum for state engagement with adolescents, and arbitrary detention, punitive measures imposed in custody and abusive brutality are common practices that persist despite repeated criticism,” said the report.
It pointed out that witnessing violence at home or within communities could also have long-term effects. “Living in violent neighbourhoods also decreases mobility and opportunity, especially for girls,” the report highlighted.
The UN agency expressed serous concern over insecurity that urban settings infuse among children and adolescents.
“Finally, when urban settings become unsafe or insecure, the quality of life of the most vulnerable, the poor and children in particular, is diminished,” it claimed.
Unicef, however, pointed out that such insecurities were largely caused by indirect factors. “But in most urban settings in Asia and the Pacific, the causes of insecurity are indirect,” said the report.