Girl in yellow shirt.

Girls Cite Domestic Violence in Their Homes as Key Factor for Leaving Home – New Global Study from Save the Children

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Oct. 6, 2020)—Violence, hunger, and the hope of a better future are all major factors for girls leaving home countries in search of a better life, a new global study across three continents has found. 

The study summarized in the report Girls on the Move, which took place in three continents, listed key motivations and outcomes among girls aged 7 – 23 who migrate to South Africa, Serbia, Greece, Colombia, Mexico, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Among the findings are:

  • Domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence, were often the main push factor for many of the girls who left Zambia and Mozambique for South Africa. The majority of the girls said they wanted a better future, through education or work.
  • For girls migrating from the Middle East to the Balkans, conflict was the main reason. However, risks of gender-based violence also fueled migration. Forced marriages, domestic violence, and not being able to give their daughters an education, were all factors contributing to families with daughters deciding to leave.   
  • Girls who left Venezuela for Colombia cited eating three meals a day as the positive outcome for their move. In their home country, 28 percent of the pregnant girls and women suffer from acute malnutrition.

“I gave a condition to my family, that I would leave only if we are going somewhere where I can get a passport and be able to work. They respected my opinion,”  said Nadene, 18, from Afghanistan, interviewed in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Research from three different continents shows what the situation for girls on the move looks like in their home countries, during their journey and—in some cases—when they arrive at their final destination.

Their stories highlight serious rights violations and strong agency and determination to improve their outcomes, Save the Children said today. 

“Regardless of the situation in their countries of origin or while on the move, girls that are adequately received in destination countries get married and have children later, and obtain a higher level of education,” said Helena Thybell, secretary general of Save the Children Sweden.

“The bravest girls in the world are among those on the move, who have the courage to leave their home and family in search for protection, education, and food. But girls on the move are particularly vulnerable to rights violations and grave risks during their journeys. The prospect of a better life in their new country can be significantly advanced, if we protect them and ensure an adequate reception system,” Thybell continued. “There is a lack of research to help us understand their situation and what is needed to protect them. This research will give us deeper knowledge about how to reach and support girls on the move.”

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.


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