On gender-based violence against girls and their right to be safe
29 December 2021
Baghdad, 28 December 2021 - UNICEF is deeply concerned by the media reports on the sexual violence suffered by a seven-year-old girl child in Baghdad, along with the kidnapping of her younger brother.
UNICEF condemns all acts of violence against children and calls on all stakeholders and members of society, following Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), of which Iraq is a signatory, to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, including sexual abuse. This commitment to protect children is reinforced by Article 30 of the Constitution of Iraq.
During the 16 Days of Activism, UNICEF, as part of the UN system in Iraq, stressed the need to continue working with the Government and local actors, to improve services for women and girl survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), including access to healthcare, survivor-centred case management and legal assistance. This case is a sad reminder that there is still much more to be done to protect children.
UNICEF commends action from the authorities to arrest the alleged perpetrator. UNICEF calls on the Government to strengthen concrete measures to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice and safeguard the life of children. Children in Iraq need a safe environment, free from violence and conducive to the development of their full potential.
However, harm to children suffering from violence and GBV can be even more severe when their information is exposed. In this case, several social media channels and media outlets have shared private information of the girl, putting her at greater risk.
The CRC, on its Article 16, ensures that every child has the right to privacy. In the spirit of Article 16, UNICEF reiterates the need of all media and social media sites to respect children´s privacy and not publish the children's photos or any associated information to preserve their dignity and prevent any further damage.
UNICEF will continue to support the Governments in both Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region with a shared vision that by 2024 children, adolescents and women, especially the most vulnerable, are protected from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, in accordance with national legal and policy framework and international standards.