NGO Plan: “Sexual violence against girls in Latin America is alarming”

Madrid, Apr 21 (EFE) .- Girls and adolescents in Latin America face “serious problems” that will influence their future, according to the NGO Plan International, but, above all, they suffer “alarming” sexual violence that will mark the rest of their life.

“Girls face physical and psychological violence and one of the worst forms of violence, which is sexual, the numbers are really alarming and painful,” Verónica Zambrano, regional director for South America of this organization, explains in an interview with EFE. helps children, which promotes equality for girls.

Zambrano illustrates with official data the situation of some countries in the region and indicates that in Peru in 2020 there were 13,843 cases of sexual violence, of which 63% were against girls from 0 to 17 years old.

Alarming are also the cases in El Salvador, where in 2017, 101,494 girls and adolescents reported having been victims of sexual violence.

In addition, Zambrano warns about the growing cases of teenage pregnancies in the region, as well as a “hidden” situation in Latin America, early child marriage.

“This generalized violence is linked to the lack of access to education on sexual and reproductive rights,” contextualizes the person in charge, who reveals that in Honduras alone there are 19,355 babies born to adolescents between 15 and 19 years old, “twenty times more than happens in Spain”.

“In Guatemala there are 63,655 babies of mothers between fifteen and nineteen years old, 55 times more than what happens in Spain. These are shocking numbers, almost half of the Latin American adolescent girls who have started their sexual life have been mothers, have been pregnant or have lost a baby,” she says.

THE LATIN AMERICA OF THE FUTURE

Zambrano wonders: “what Latin America is being built?” when there are girls who experience this violence and “they are going to be the women who will be working and in charge of families and their children in the coming decades.”

“Hopefully we can put these data on the public agenda (…), this has to change, the same thing happens in Asia and Africa,” he stresses.

She explains that the girls who live in these environments of violence grow up “submissive, without security, in fear, without a life plan or project”, “and they grow up a little to survive each day, as mothers survive, with a dollar a day , feeding what there is”.

Despite this, he assures that there is “hope” because the work of the organization has allowed them to observe examples of change. “We have been able to reach the communities and see that when girls are given the opportunity to stay in school, they stay, even though gender roles and stereotypes are also reproduced there,” she says.

GIRL AND MIGRANT, A DOUBLE DISCRIMINATION IN LATIN AMERICA

The regional director focuses especially on the situation of migrant girls and adolescents in the region, protagonists and victims of migratory crises that “will last for years.”

“The region is suffering migratory crises like the ones it has never experienced, they have hot spots like Haiti where since 2013 with the earthquake it has had a brutal migratory crisis, with thousands of people who have had to leave in the most difficult conditions of extreme poverty” , analyze.

It also refers to the crisis in the northern triangle, made up of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, whose citizens migrate en masse to seek a better life in the United States, or the Venezuelan crisis that has left seven million migrants scattered throughout various Latin American countries.

“Venezuelan girls arrive in other countries with this stigma about them that they are easy women, that they become prostitutes, xenophobia is terrible, broken families arrive, this Venezuelan crisis has the face of a woman and a young man and a girl,” he says. .

Along these lines, he regrets that the receiving countries are not prepared to receive these people and that the pandemic has further aggravated the situation.

“There is a lack of access to schools and health, and adolescent pregnancies, early marriage, gender violence, separation from their family… they dream of being well in the country they are in, but it is very hard to what’s going on”, ditch.

Macarena Soto

(c) EFE Agency

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NGO Plan: “Sexual violence against girls in Latin America is alarming”