Jamaica is pleased to join the global reflection and recommitment to creating a world where our girls can live free of violence and achieve their full potential.

Today, we mark another observance of the International Day of the Girl Child mindful of the fact that violence in whatever form it is perpetrated against our girls is a grave abuse of their human rights.

Latest figures on the abuse of our girls in the 2013 Report of the Office of the Children’s Registry show a 26 percent increase in the number of reported cases, totaling 11,018. Girls accounted for 57 percent of the reported cases. One hundred percent of trafficking cases involved girls, while girls accounted for 51 percent of physical abuse victims and 92 percent of sexual abuse cases.

Clearly, violence against our children and girls remains too pervasive and at unacceptable levels and when the long term scars from violence and abuse are taken into consideration, the end result must be an inability by those affected to lead wholesome adult lives. This amounts to a catastrophic loss of our human potential.

Protecting girls from all forms of violence is therefore an urgent and necessary step in achieving our development goals. -2-Toward this end, provision of adequate services, appropriate legislation and comprehensive prevention efforts, including public education, must continue.

Our girls must be provided with access to education, improved justice mechanisms and support services, and we must engage our men and boys to understand that violence and abuse against women and girls is not acceptable behaviour.  As a society, our progress is best assured by defeating the scourge of violence and in this specific instance, violence against our girls.

We all agree our children are the nation’s future, but that future cannot be fully realized if the vast powerhouse of talent, creativity and potential of our girls is destroyed and permanently scarred  through violence and abuse.

Together, let us change not only the conversation, but take action to eliminate the scourge of violence inflicted on our girls and young women. Let this International Day of the Girl Child with its focus on violence against girls be an opportunity for us to step up collective action to break the cycle of violence against girls. Let us all say ‘no more, no more violence against our women and girls’ and help to build a better, safer, healthier and more prosperous Jamaica.

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