Venezuela’s girls at risk of violence and exploitation amid political turmoil, says Plan International

Plan International is extremely concerned about the impact of the current political turmoil in Venezuela on the country’s children, especially girls, and is responding to support those affected.

The current political crisis* is the latest development in a displacement crisis which has been intensifying since 2014 and has so far led to more than three million Venezuelans fleeing their country.

According to the UN, that number is expected to rise to more than five million by the end of 2019.

Plan International is particularly worried about the hundreds of thousands of girls and young women who are among the displaced peoples, as we know they face particular risks due to their age and gender – and often become easy targets of violations of their rights such as sexual violence and exploitation.

“Upholding the rights of forcibly displaced girls and young women is our priority,” said Debora Cobar, Regional Director of Plan International Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Forced migration places children and young people, particularly girls and young women, at heightened risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect at all stages of displacement as protective structures, networks and systems break down.”

Plan International has established a dedicated regional response to the crisis, targeting 175,000 child and adolescent migrants and their families, as well as members of the host populations in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

As part of its response, the global humanitarian organisation is implementing appropriate prevention and response interventions to protect children and adolescents, particularly girls, from of abuse.

It is also setting up quality and inclusive learning and viable livelihoods opportunities for children and adolescents at risk, or survivors of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

Notes to Editors

  • On 23 January, Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, declared himself the interim president of Venezuela following the inauguration of the incumbent Nicolas Maduro earlier in the month. Guaidó was also recognised as the country’s legitimate president by the US, Canada and number of South American countries, including Brazil, Colombia and Peru. This led to clashes between supporters of the two leaders. At least 13 people have been killed in related gunfire, according to the rights group the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflicts.

  • Plan International’s report Adolescent Girls In Crisis: Experiences of Risk and Resilience Across Three Humanitarian Settings found that adolescent girls in particular face catastrophic consequences from displacement and violence, with numerous specific risks due to their age and gender. These include sexual and gender-based violence, kidnapping, child trafficking, and child marriage. Adolescent girls are also most often the first to be removed from school in times of crisis, and shoulder a disproportionate burden of household chores. 

About Plan International 

Plan International is a global independent development and humanitarian organisation. We champion girls’ rights because we know that there is nowhere in the world where girls are treated as equals. We work alongside children, young people, supporters and partners to tackle the root causes of injustices facing girls and the most marginalised children.

Plan International works in more than 75 countries to help create a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Our local office, Plan International Australia funds programs to support children in more than 25 countries, as well as sponsorship programs across the federation.