150 experts from 20 Latin American countries participated in a UNICEF-sponsored conference, "Our Girls: the Right to Equity From Infancy," earlier this month.
Mario Luis Fuentes, director of the System for the Integral Development of the Family in Mexico, argued that laws governing domestic violence, child exploitation and sexual abuse do not reflect the seriousness of the crimes, and must be strengthened.
Child labor exploitation is rampant in impoverished Latin American countries, and the exploitation of girls is especially severe. Representatives from the Economic Commission for Latin America relayed research suggesting that indigent girls face greater violence and abuse in the streets and earn less money than do boys of similar age and ability.
Conference participants discussed strategies for upholding the rights of children and agreed to conduct further research on discrimination against girls in education, healthcare and employment.