Violence and sexual abuse in schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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Helpdesk Query:

Produce a report focusing on violence and sexual abuse in schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In particular consider the following:

  1. What literature and evidence on attacks on schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan is there? In particular, what evidence is there on trends, on prevalence, and efforts at mitigation?
  2. What evidence is there on the use of corporal punishment in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
  3. What is the prevalence of sexual abuse in schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and how successful have attempts to mitigate it been?

This report includes statistics and reports on sexual abuse and violence in schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The first section of the report covers UN Security Council Reports including statistics on attacks.  The next two sections cover incidents.  The section on attacks on schools in Afghanistan includes information on common types of attacks and the prevalence in different areas and the Pakistan section includes data by region.

A section of the report deals with the issue of mitigating attacks including strategies such a building a boundary wall, setting up a school defence committee and hiring guards.  Furthermore, corporal punishment in schools is covered.  This section presents evidence showing that half of all interviewed teachers believe that they have a right to beat children. Although laws now prohibit corporal punishment in school (implemented in 2008), it is still a daily reality for many school students. A vast majority of teachers believe that physical punishment is an essential and unavoidable practice to maintain discipline in the school.

Research is limited on sexual abuse in schools, as asking questions about this can raise suspicions and even create anger.  However, reports on the situation indicate that it remains a serious problem. Over and above the ordeal itself, the stigmatization and social taboos associated with rape result in many girls being abandoned by their families, and women by their husbands.

Fear of physical attacks and sexual violence is likely to hinder the ability of children, particularly although not exclusively girls, to enrol in schools.  This may result in households attempting to protect vulnerable members by keeping them at home or sending them away to relatives and friends in more secure locations. Fear is central in household decisions on whether to send children to school.

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