Many of these young girls report being the head of their household with younger siblings or even children of their own who depend on them for food. Girls who marry before 15 years of age are more likely to be illiterate than their older counterparts, more likely to be dowry payment brides, less likely to come into contact with development projects, have higher rates of infant mortality, and are most vulnerable to sexual violence. In many cases, intercourse is initiated before the girl begins to menstruate.
Many of these young girls report being the head of their household with younger siblings or even children of their own who depend on them for food. A recently formed interagency Forum on the Rights of Girls and Women in Marriage is investigating the widespread problem of nonconsensual marriage and forced sex and advocating for legislative and policy initiatives. Before IRC programs lost critical funding in , the IRC worked with the Kenya Ministry of Health to provide care for gender-based violence survivors, psychosocial support, mentorship to adolescent girls, job training to vulnerable women and girls, and education and awareness raising to communities on HIV, gender-based violence, and reproductive health. The absence of adequate legal and policy action frameworks to deal with the rights of girls, coupled with the lack of sanctions against these abuses, comprise state complicity and neglect of duty under international law to this vulnerable group. Forced marriage, forced sex: Due to funding cuts, IRC had to let go of five full-time staff that were working on these programs, which had a direct impact on the delivery of much-needed aid. Clear and alarming indications of harmful coping mechanisms were found during an assessment conducted in late February by the IRC in Turkana County looking at how the ongoing drought has affected local populations. Although adult women also face sexual violence within marriage, this problem is all the more traumatic for girls who lack any information about sexuality. Some even cry when they come from school and find there is no food. Women reported they were engaging in transactional sex, and girls reported to have been married off at an early age to procure food for their families. Learn more at www. Girls who marry before 15 years of age are more likely to be illiterate than their older counterparts, more likely to be dowry payment brides, less likely to come into contact with development projects, have higher rates of infant mortality, and are most vulnerable to sexual violence. This article reviews three research projects in this area: The IRC was reaching nearly 10, people at the time through this program. She could no longer hold in urine due to the incident. The IRC is seeing an increase in gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, and women and girls engaging in transactional sex as a direct consequence of food insecurity caused by drought in the region. This program had seen a number of women and girls leave sex work to go back to school or start their own businesses. Sex with girls below a certain age is usually covered by rape legislation, but, in countries such as India, this is mitigated by the religiously defined personal laws. Additionally, the IRC was reaching half of the female sex worker population in the district with targeted HIV prevention and reproductive health services, support groups, psychosocial support, and income generating activities. In many cases, intercourse is initiated before the girl begins to menstruate.
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