Cover Image
close this bookIntegrating Girl Child Issues into Population Education - Volume 1 (PROAP - UNFPA, 1997, 44 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentData Card
View the documentPreface
View the documentCHAPTER ONE: Background
View the documentCHAPTER TWO: Present Status of Girl Child
View the documentCHAPTER THREE: Strategies to Promote Female Education
View the documentCHAPTER FOUR: Benefits of Educating Girls
View the documentReferences

CHAPTER TWO: Present Status of Girl Child


Figure

In the areas of:

Ö Education
Ö Nutrition and health care
Ö Marriage and family life
Ö Harmful cultural practices, values and traditions
Ö Child labour
Ö Prostitution, sexual abuse, STDs and HIV/AIDS

A. Education

Education can change a woman's life. It increases a woman's chances for paid employment and her earning power; it delays her age at marriage and strengthen her control over childbearing; enhances her ability to take care of her own health and the health of her children and thereby reduces infant mortality. The educational bias against girls and the low earning power of adult women form a vicious circle, perpetuating discrimination against girls and women in households and societies.

“In 1990, 130 million children had no access to primary school; of these 81 million were girls.”2

“Gender-biased educational processes, including curricula, education materials and practices, teachers attitudes, and classroom interaction, reinforce existing gender bias.”3

Traditional female and male roles are reinforced through the education system because of lack of gender awareness on the part of educators.

There are 960 million illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds of whom are female. Literacy levels are increasing, yet there are significant regional and inter-regional variations, as shown in the chart in the next page.

The gender gap in literacy is still persisting. In India, for example, literacy rates are 39 per cent among women and 64 per cent among men. In Egypt, it is 27 per cent for women as compared to 63 per cent for men.4

Primary school enrolment for girls has been increasing worldwide and the gender gap at this level is narrowing worldwide, except in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia.5

Nearly all girls of school going age are enrolled in primary or secondary school in North America, Australia, Japan and much of Western Europe. For other regions the figures vary widely, from universal enrolment in Barbados, to 9 per cent enrollment in Afghanistan.6

At the secondary school level, the proportion of girls to boys drop significantly.

One-third of all developing countries do not have school systems that are adequate to educate all their children. Whenever places in school are limited, girls are at a particular disadvantage.


Chart 1: Growth in female literacy levels

Source: UNESCO, World Education Report 1993.

Chart 2: Percentage of female enrolment by level of education and region


SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA


EAST ASIA


ARAB STATES


SOUTH ASIA

Source: UNESCO, Trends and Projections of Enrolment by Level of Education and by Age, 1960-2025 (as assessed in 1993)

In Many countries, the school drop out rate is much higher among girls than among boys.

“A survey in India, for example, found that while 60 per cent of rural children were enrolled in school, only 15 per cent of girls remained after five years, compared to 35 per cent among boys.”7

In the Asia-Pacific region, wide gender differences at the primary and secondary school level is found in South Asia (excluding Sri Lanka). In these countries, the female ratio at the primary level is 40 to 70 per cent of the male ratio.8

Lower enrolment rates and higher school drop-out rates for girls reflect the lower value that households place on educating girls. This itself reflects the low status of women in society. In the context of poverty, the households allocate their limited resources to educate the male children only. The economic arguments against educating girls, reinforce the traditional bias.

Education costs include not only the direct costs of tuition, textbooks, school uniform etc., but also opportunity costs of work foregone by daughters - whether it is housework or minding the siblings or work in the market place. One must also include the hidden cost of going against the society's norms regarding the conduct and behaviour of girls and the expectations from them.

A large proportion of the worlds population live in rural areas and it is in rural areas that female illiteracy predominates. Children in rural households help with housework, in fetching and carrying fuel and water, took after younger siblings, help in home based income generating activities, in cultivating the land and marketing the product.

“Because of cultural and labour market restrictions on women's work in many poor countries, the private benefits to the family that pays for a daughters education are often not large enough to offset the cost.”9

Traditional beliefs and cultural practices place the bulk of this burden on girls. Therefore, avoiding interference with the demands of rural life is most important if the girl child is to have equal access to education. Flexible school hours, and calendars, childcare centres at school and locating schools close to the village will allow girls to continue their education without interfering with their responsibilities at home.

For poor families, education must be free. Scholarships and other financial support to encourage school enrolment of girls is necessary in societies where girls education and status are undervalued.

“In Bangladesh, for example, a United States Agency for International Development project provided secondary scholarships to girls living in project areas, increasing enrollment by nearly 50 per cent ______”10

“In Peru, a study found that girls were three times more likely to enroll in school if textbooks were provided free of charge; no corresponding changes in male enrollment were reported.”11

In the absence of educated or even literate adult women in the household, a role model for young girls can be provided by women teachers. It is important to train and recruit teachers locally. When teachers are familiar with the local customs, traditions and lifestyle, they are trusted by the people and can provide effective counselling to parents and students regarding the value of educating girls.

Educational projects, should target girls as the main beneficiary. A multi pronged approach and a conscious decision should be made to enroll and retain the maximum possible number of girls in schools.


Chart 3: Increase in enrolment ratios for girls aged 6-11

Source: UNESCO, Trends and Projections of Enrolment by Level of Education and by Age, 1960-2025 (as assessed in 1993)

Chart 4: School enrolment rates (percentage of those in the appropriate age groups who are actually enrolled)

Major Goal: Universal Access to Basic Education

Indicator: Gross Enrolment Ratio at Primary School Level-Male

EAP COUNTRIES
(excl. Pacific Islands)

1980

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990@

VERY HIGH U5MR









CAMBODIA

CAM








LAO, PDR

LAO

123

121


122

123 @

124 @

125

HIGH U5MR









INDONESIA

IDN

115

121

120

121

121

122 @

123

MONGOLIA

MNG

108

104

100

101 @

101 @

102 @

103

MYANMAR (BURMA)

MYR

93

101

107

106

107 @

108 @

108

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

PNG

66



75

76

79

80

PHILIPPINES

PHL

113

106

107

107

109

110 @

111

VIET NAM

VNM

111

105



107

107 @

108

MIDDLE U5MR









CHINA

CHN

121

132

137 (137)

140

142 (132)

143 @

144

KOREA, DPR

PRK




100

101 @

101 @

102

KOREA, REP

KOR

109


98

101

104

107

108

MALAYSIA

MYS

93

101


102

102

103 @

104

THAILAND

THA

100







LOW U5MR









SINGAPORE

SGP

109


116

114

112

110

111

Source: UNESCO Yearbook 1990. @ = Estimated figures.

Note:

1. Projections based on the average annual growth rate of Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, Average Growth Rate = .0074.

2. Figures in brackets are provided by country offices.


Chart 5: Gross enrolment in primary school, 1990 (female as percentage of male)

Source: UNESCO.

Chart 6: Gross enrolment ratio of primary school level-female

Major Goal: Universal Access to Basic Education

Indicator: Gross Enrolment Ratio at Primary School Level-Female

EAP COUNTRIES
(excl. Pacific Islands)

1980

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990@

VERY HIGH U5MR









CAMBODIA

CAM








LAO, PDR

LAO

104

100


98

99 @

100 @

101

HIGH U5MR









INDONESIA

IDN

100

114

115

115

117

118 @

120

MONGOLIA

MNG

105

106

103

104 @

105 @

106 @

108

MYANMAR (BURMA)

MYR

89

96

100

100

101 @

102 @

103

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

PNG

51



64

65

67

68

PHILIPPINES

PHL

113

107

106

110

111

112 @

113

VIET NAM

VNM

106

99

100 @

101 @

102 @

103 @

105

MIDDLE U5MR









CHINA

CHN

103

114

120 (125)

124

126 (122)

127 @

129

KOREA, DPR

PRK




100

101 @

102 @

103

KOREA, REP

KOR

111


99

101

104

108

109

MALAYSIA

MYS

92

100


102

102

103 @

104

THAILAND

THA

97







LOW U5MR









SINGAPORE

SGP

106


113

111

110

107

108

Source: UNESCO Yearbook 1990. @ = Estimated figures.

Note:

1. Projections based on the average annual growth rate of Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia, Average Growth Rate = 0.0109.

2. Figures in brackets are provided by country offices.


Chart 7: Female illiteracy rate, 1990 and 2000 as percentage of male

Source: UNESCO, 1990.

B. Nutrition and Health Care

Discrimination against the girl child extend to her access to nutrition and healthcare services, jeopardizing her current and future health. Intra-household distribution of resources in large parts of the world, favour men and boys over women and girls. “An estimated 450 million adult women in developing countries are stunted as result of childhood protein-energy malnutrition.”12

Females have certain biological advantages over males. Girl babies are stronger and less susceptible to infection compared to boy babies but this can be reversed by outside factors such as malnutrition, neglect, and lack of healthcare.

“In thirty developing countries, death rates for girls between the ages of one and four years, have been found to be higher than or equal to those of boys, whereas in industrialized countries death rates for boys are generally higher than for girls.”13 “When boys and girls receive the same care, the chances of girls surviving the first five years of life are I per cent greater than for boys.”14

Again, because of biological advantages, women have a longer average life expectancy than men, when they have equal access to food and health care. The differences in female and male life expectancies are narrower in poor countries than in rich countries. The norm is in fact reversed in some countries, average life expectancy for men being higher than for women. This indicates discrimination against females in terms of nutrition and health care; discrimination that starts early in the life of the girl child and carried into her adult life.

Studies show that girl babies are breast fed less frequently and for a shorter period than boy babies. This is a disadvantage even when alternative source of milk is available, but it can be critical in the absence of alternative sources-resulting in severe malnutrition and death.

Chart 8: Deaths per 1,000 population aged 2-5 years

Higher mortality rates among girls aged 2-5 years have been found in demographic and health surveys in a significant


Deaths per year 1,000 population aged 2-5 years


Girls

Boys

Pakistan

54.4

36.9

Haiti

61.2

47.8

Bangladesh

68.6

57.7

Thailand

26.8

17.3

Syria

14.6

9.3

Colombia

24.8

20.5

Costa Rica

8.1

4.8

Nepal

60.7

57.7

Dominican Republic

20.2

17.2

Philippines

21.9

19.1

Sri Lanka

18.7

16.3

Peru

30.8

28.8

Mexico

16.7

14.7

Panama

8.7

7.6

Turkey

19.5

18.4

Republic of Korea

12.7

11.8

Venezuela

8.4

7.6

Source: Compiled by UNICEF from national survey reports of the World Fertility Survey programme.

Intra-household resource allocation usually favours boys. Parents perception of sons as bearers of the family name and lineage and source of financial support in the future, places a much higher value on boys as compared to girls who would be married off and belong to a different family. This bias against girls in food, results in girls having a lower nutritional status than boys. “A study of 898 villages around the world found that males are usually given priority over females in the family food distribution system.”15 In poor households, scarcity of resources can have dangerous implication for girls, but even in better off households, boys get priority access to the best food and are often given larger helpings.

Gender bias prevails in access to medical treatment and healthcare services. Throughout the world, more male children are immunized and treated by hospitals as compared to female children. “In a community health project in South Korea, immunization rates were equal for girls and boys when provided without a fee, but the proportion of girls fell to 25 per cent as soon as a small fee was charged.”16

Illness of a girl child is often ignored and medical treatment sought for her only when her condition is serious, whereas in the case of boys, medical attention is sought promptly.

Deprivation of food and lack of access to health care during the critical childhood years, affects the entire life of a woman. Poor health of mothers is perpetuated from mother to child. This inter-generational perpetuation of ill health for women and girls is illustrated here:

C. Marriage and Family Life

The status of women in society is closely linked to their age at marriage. The age at which a woman marries, has clear implications for her health, her personal development, her access to education and training and the number of children she would have.

There is a clear link between a girl's access to education, and the age at which she marries. The higher the level of education, the later the age at marriage.

“Worldwide, the average age of first marriage is rising to around twenty years for women, due to longer time spent at full time education. This global figure hides a much lower average in some countries.”17

“More than two-third of girls aged 19 or younger have already been married in Bangladesh and more than half in Afghanistan, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, North Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, some of them soon after reaching puberty.”18


Chart 9: The perpetuation of poor health among women and girls

Source: Winikoff, B. “Women's Health in the Developing Countries” in Wallace, H. M. and Girl, K. Health Care of Women and Children in Developing Countries, Third Party Publishing Company, California, 1990, p. 168.

Teenage marriage is more common in the developing countries in general and in rural areas in particular, reflecting stronger adherence to traditional values, lack of educational facilities and employment opportunities for girls.

Most countries have enacted legislation to raise the age at marriage and also to improve women's reproductive health. However, much more has to be done before the reality changes.

“More than 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth each year.”19

Teenage pregnancy, usually the effect of marriage, can seriously jeopardize a girls health and the health of her children. “Teenage mothers have a high risk for maternal and infant mortality-twice that of mothers aged 20 to 24.”20

“In Mauritania, 39 per cent of girls are married by age 15, and 15 per cent have given birth. In Bangladesh, 73 per cent of girls are married by age 15 and 21 per cent have at least one child.”21

A survey shows that in Bangladesh, one in six 15 year olds will not survive her childbearing years, (about one-third of these deaths relate to pregnancy and childbirth).22

Teenage pregnancy is common among the urban poor worldwide. Urbanization, and the consequent socio-economic problems such as the breakdown of family ties and support system, congested urban slums, unemployment, and drug abuse, have created an environment where girls become sexually active early. In the absence of counselling, ignorance about availability and use of contraceptive methods, many adolescents become pregnant.

“Worldwide there are about one billion teenagers and each year 15 million of them become pregnant.”23

Early pregnancy limits the girls' chances for education and paid employment.


Chart 10: Vicious circle of malnutrition

Source: Population Information Programme, 1988.


Chart 11: Minimum age of marriage

Women's ability to make decisions concerning reproductive lives is linked to their status within the family and the ability to make decisions regarding their marriage. Where the minimum age of marriage remains low, women are exposed to the dangers to their be of early and frequent pregnancy. As the chart shows, traditional practices often persist despite improvements in the law.

Source: International Planned Parenthood Federation, 1999.

Early marriage and childbearing are closely linked to high total fertility.

“In the countries studied, where the majority of girls aged 15 to 19 have been married, women bear, on average, six to seven children, three or more times as many as women in countries with late marriage.”24

The socio-religious norms in many communities consider it “unethical” to keep a daughter unmarried beyond a certain age (which could even be 12 years). An unmarried teenager's virtue is suspected. Religious texts are interpreted to reinforce these beliefs.

In most societies, marriage is not an egalitarian institution. Men are allowed to dominate sexual, psychological and socio-economic relations. This inequality is further reinforced when marriages are arranged between adolescent girls and much older men. A wide age difference between the husband and the wife further weakens the position of the wife in terms of household decision making, autonomy and control over her own fertility.

Many girls are given in polygamous marriages. Polygamy is usually associated with a wide age gap between husband and wife. The issue of inherent inequality within polygamous marriages has been raised by many.

Social customs associated with marriage such as dowry and bride price, undermine the status of girls and women. The payment of dowry by the bride's family can be a major financial burden on the parents, and the girl child is perceived by them as a financial liability, further weakening her status within the household. Non-payment of dowry can jeopardize her position in her husband's family.

Strangely, the reverse of this viz., the payment of bride price by the groom, also weakens the status of women. Under some customary laws, the payment of bride price makes the wife a property of her husband and the husband has the sole custody of the children if there is a divorce. When the wife seeks separation, the husband can demand the repayment of the bride price.

The family is perceived as the natural context in which children are born and raised. The division of roles and responsibilities within the family has not been questioned until recently. A young girl is conditioned from early childhood to look after others, to be obedient, to conform. Her principal roles in life are perceived to be a wife and a mother. Her dreams about attainments beyond motherhood often remain as dreams.

D. Harmful Cultural Practices, Values and Traditions

Traditions of patriarchy, unequal power balance between men and the desire to control women's sexuality, have led to certain cultural practices, values and traditions that are harmful to the girl child and undermine her worth.

Genital mutilation is frequently referred to as female circumcision. This is misleading, as it implies that the procedure is similar to male circumcision, which involves only the removal of skin. For women, the procedure is far more invasive and dangerous, and has many different variations.

There are three main forms of genital mutilation. In the mildest from, the tip of the clitoris is cut off. In the second form, the entire clitoris and part of the outer genitalia are removed. In its extreme form, known as infibulation, the procedure involves the removal of the external genitalia and stitching up of the two sides of the vagina to leave only a tiny opening for the passage of urine and stitching up two sides of the vagina to leave only a tiny opening for menstrual blood.25

The age of the child when subjected to this practice varies from a few days old to adolescent and sometimes practiced shortly before marriage or when a woman has just given birth.

“Female genital mutilation is a major public health issue: an estimated 80 million women world-wide have undergone the procedure. It is practiced, in one form or another, in around 40 countries, mostly in East and West Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula. As a result of migration from these areas it is now also practiced in Europe and North America.”

Female genital mutilation destroys a zone of sexual pleasure. Although the origin of this practice is not clear, it is believed that the practice has much to do with the desire to control female sexuality, preserve the monogamous status of women and protect family lineage.

This practice has serious health consequences. It is generally performed outside the medical system using unclean instruments. It is performed without anesthesia and is extremely painful. There is the immediate risk of death from shock or severe bleeding and later the risk of infection such as septicemia and tetanus. The longer term consequences include pain during sexual intercourse, complication during childbirth, possible infertility because of infection, vulnerability to HIV and lifelong psychological trauma.

Several countries have passed legislation forbidding female genital mutilation. However, the practice is rooted in tradition, and it will require governments, social workers, and NGOs to work in a concerted way through national and community education programmes before this extremely harmful practice is eradicated.

Son preference is worldwide and reflects the patriarchal traditions of most societies. In many traditional societies, son preference has led to the female infanticide and foeticide.

Technology designed to detect abnormalities in the foetus, is now being used to determine the sex of the foetus. If it is a female foetus, it is aborted.

“The result of a study of 700 pregnant women in India who received genetic amniocentesis showed that only 20 of the 450 women told they would have a daughter, went through with the pregnancy. All the 250 male infants predicted, even where a genetic disorder was likely, were carried to full term.”26

Quantitative information on female infanticide is scarce. “It is estimated that the one child policy in China has resulted in the deaths of more than one million first-born girl infants.”27 Several studies of parental preference in Africa and Asia show that parents prefer to have sons.

Neglect of girl children, foeticide and infanticide account for adverse sex ratio in many countries.

The sex ratio for India decreased from 934 women to 1,000 men in 1981, to 929 women to 1,000 men in 1991.28

Estimates of “missing” women, who have died prematurely from the consequences of gender bias, give the staggering figure of 100 million.”29

E. Child Labour

Worldwide between 20 million to 40 million children work. Asia alone has about 150 million child workers.30

The magnitude and extent of child labour is not easy to estimate because: children below the minimum legal age for work, but actually working, are not counted in official statistics; large number of children work in home based industries and what is known as informal sector enterprises which are not registered; child workers who are invisible - working as domestic workers, sexually exploited children, engaged in illegal activities, or confined to factories or mines.

Labour laws

Most countries have labour laws to protect children, although the scope varies. In some Asian countries child labour is not prohibited, but regulated. Regulations extend to prohibition of child employment in some occupations, limiting hours of work, etc.

Bulk of working children are found in rural areas. In India and in the Philippines, more than 8 per cent of the children aged 10 to 14 years are in rural areas.

For low income households in Africa, Latin America and Asia, children are a source of additional labour power. Young girls help in collecting water, fuel and food and girls and boys help in farming, selling farm products in the markets.

Gender differentiated data are not available for child workers. Girls are less visible among the child workers in factories and mines and even among “street children”. In collecting information and designing programmes, girl workers are often bypassed. However, girls predominate as domestic workers, sex workers, workers in home based industries and some factory based industries such as garment industry.

No official estimate

No official estimate of child domestic workers is available, the numbers must be in millions worldwide. Children working as domestic servants are extremely vulnerable and difficult to protect because they are confined to the household without much contact with the outside world. These children cannot be contacted without the cooperation of their employers.

Employing children as domestic servants is not regarded as exploitative in many societies. The employers are often regarded as benefactors. However, children engaged as servants often work for long hours for very low wages and sometimes without wages just for food and shelter. They are not members of any trade union and are not legally recognized as workers. Their wages are not required to conform to the legal minimum wage, and can be dismissed without any compensation.

There are millions of children who work as bonded labour. Estimates say that in the Indian subcontinent, there are 20 million children working in debt bondage, 15 million of them in India alone.31

Children are bonded because of indebtedness of parents, or they are lured under false pretext and not allowed to leave. Children in bonded labour is common both in rural and urban areas. They also work in small enterprises, service industries, drug trafficking and prostitution. Poverty, ignorance, lack of awareness of opportunities, ignorance of legal rights, all contribute to the continuation of bonded labour, in spite of legislation against the practice. “It is a situation where children are enmeshed in two systems of exploitation, that of child labour and that of servitude.”32

Gender disaggregated date are not available for children working in factories, but the garment industry in Bangladesh for example, employs a large proportion of girls. They start work on average when they are 11 years plus. They work long hours, receive less than what adult workers receive, work under cramped conditions and have to forego formal education.

Garment manufacturing in other Asian countries too tend to employ mainly women and children.

The bangle industry in Pakistan engages women and child workers. They work under harsh conditions of excessive heat, lack of protective clothing, danger of burns. Match and fireworks factories in Shivakashi, India employ 50,000 children including some very young children.33 Again separate data for girls are not available.

In Thailand, 95,000-120,000 children are employed in the industrial sector.34 Children are engaged in food packaging and processing, garments manufacturing, and leather industry.

Children often work under hazardous conditions in factories. Long hours of work under cramped condition, poor lighting and ventilation, pollution and low safety standards, make the children vulnerable to debilitating diseases and disabilities.

F. Prostitution, Sexual Abuse, STDs and AIDS

Child prostitution is the worst form of exploitation in society. “According to ECPAT (End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism) estimates there are over one million sexually exploited children in under 16 years of age in eight Asian countries alone ....”35 Children exploited in commercial sex trade, are in a form of slavery or bondage.

An estimate shows that there are 100,000 Nepali women involved in prostitution in Indian cities. Of them 20 per cent are below 14 years.36

Poverty and indebtedness among the rural poor is the most obvious cause of child prostitution. Parents sell their daughters in bonded labour to procurers, to repay debts. Sometimes the girls themselves, are tricked into prostitution under false pretexts. In some villages in northern Thailand up to 60 to 70 per cent of young girls aged 11 years and above, are involved in the sex trade.37

However, rural poverty is not the only underlying cause. Urbanization, fragmentation of families and breakdown of traditional family ties, life in urban slums, and rapid flow of cash through international tourism have all contributed to trafficking in children. Girls end up in prostitution through bogus marriages, domestic labour, false adoption, clandestine employment and immigration. The fundamental reason for sexual exploitation of girls is the low status accorded to women by society.

Children in prostitution lead a miserable existence and are at great risk. The entire traffick is clandestine, and cross international borders. The children are confined to brothels, and forced to “work” under circumstances over which they have no control-long hours, poor wages, unhygienic surroundings unprotected sex and physical and psychological abuse. They rarely have any access to health care facilities and are specially vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS. Reports from Thailand indicate that 60 to 70 per cent of girls in brothels are now HIV positive.38

There are special prohibitions on sexual exploitation of children and trafficking in children, which have been codified in 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Violence is often gender based, violence directed against women and girls because of their sex. It may take the form of sexual molestation, incest or rape.

Young girls face physical and sexual abuse within the family in all social and racial groups. Sexual abuse of girls by family members especially incest, remains a closely guarded family secret. The family is the basic social unit, where children are protected and nurtured, yet girls are exposed to abuse within that unit, their trust and vulnerability is exploited. Girls being abused within the family are impossible to reach by any outside agency. These crimes go undetected and unpunished. In traditional societies, the girls themselves have to take the blame, some are disclaimed by their families, many leave their homes and lacking any other means of livelihood, turn to prostitution. Studies show that a large proportion of children involved in prostitution had been sexually abused by their family members or guardians.

Rape of a girl by someone outside the family is not always reported because of the notion of privacy of the family and protection of the girls reputation. Moreover, in most legal systems, rape is difficult to prove unless the victim is taken to the authorities immediately. Law enforcement officials are often skeptical of such cases, or lack the required training to handle such cases. The complexity of the legal system and the length of time involved to complete the process also act as deterrents on the family of the victim.

Most countries have laws against sexual relations with a child below 16 years of age. The offense is deemed to be statutory rape and the question of consent does not arise. However, enforcement of the laws has been extremely weak in most countries.