There are about 120 million girls under 20 worldwide who are victims of forced relationships or forced sexual acts, youths who can’t find safety inside their own homes, schools or workplaces.
They’re beaten, raped and forced to undergo genital mutilation. They’re also sold as slaves or forced to fight as soldiers in wars they have nothing to do with. Or they’re forcibly married (15 million suffer this fate each year), compelled to wed men much older than them. These are girls and teenagers whose lives are stolen by those who, in theory, should be caring for them — fathers, siblings, mothers or other relatives — but in actuality are their oppressors.
This is a phenomenon more common in developing countries, but it also involves us.
In Italy, two children are victims of sexual abuse every day and 1,000 every year, according to a report by Terre des Hommes, “Defenceless: The Condition of Girls in the World.” If we include other types of violence in addition to sexual, this figure rises to 5,383 cases in 2016, six out of 10 instances involving girls, signaling a dramatic increase of 6 percent compared with the previous year.