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Report: Left-behind Girls Vulnerable to Sexual Assault

Xinhua News Agency, September 16, 2013 Adjust font size:

China's rural left-behind girls and children of migrant workers are more likely to become victims of sexual assault, said a report published on Friday.

The report found left-behind girls are most vulnerable to sexual offences in less developed regions, and migrant girls or children of migrant workers face higher chances of assault in developed areas.

Jointly released by the China Children and Teenagers' Fund (CCTF) and the Research Center for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise under Beijing Normal University, the report blamed lack of guardianship as the direct cause for more sexual assault and harassment targeted at those cohorts.

Increasing numbers of rural workers heading for cities have led to China's left-behind and migrant children.

Left-behind children are those who remain in their rural homes after their parents migrate to cities for jobs. The children are usually cared for by grandparents or other relatives.

Lack of basic guardianship can even lead to repeated and prolonged sexual harassment and assault, the report added.

Chen Xiaoxia, secretary general of the CCTF, said the report was based on analyses by groups of researchers who have collected questionnaires and conducted field studies in Guangdong, Guizhou and Jilin provinces since March of this year.

According to statistics released by the women's federation of Guangdong Province, migrant girls account for up to 88 percent of sexual assault victims in some districts of Shenzhen, and left-behind girls account for up to 94 percent of victims in Huazhou.

Mentally-challenged girls face higher chances of sexual assault compared with other girls, the report said.

The issue of protecting girls from sexual assault was thrown into the spotlight in China after a number of rape scandals were revealed this year.

In May, a school principal and a local government employee from Hainan Province spent a night with primary school girls between the ages of 11 and 14, prompting public outrage nationwide.

The report added that victims' lack of prevention awareness and knowledge as well as their fear of being exposed have led to more sexual assaults within families and between neighbors, school teachers and students.

The report advocated more concern from nongovernmental sectors for girls lacking guardianship and strengthened education for children and their guardians to promote sexual assault awareness.

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