Girls often face significant barriers to accessing justice, whether they are victims of crime, witnesses or alleged offenders. All too often, legislation and criminal, administrative and civil proceedings are inadequate for the safeguarding of their rights, while appropriate policies for their protection are absent or poorly implemented.
Many countries lack specialized judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other personnel qualified to work with girls, in addition to sufficient resources to provide the requisite training. The result is that institutions including the police and courts, are often poorly equipped to deal with the situation of girls and their specific vulnerabilities.
Even when girls do overcome these barriers, it often transpires that, far from affording support and protection, criminal justice systems are the setting for still more violence and stigmatization: at the hands of police, criminal justice officials and, in the case of detention, prison staff and other detainees.
In short, as a consequence of their age and gender, girls face a double jeopardy when they come in contact with criminal justice systems, a challenge rooted in discriminatory attitudes and perceptions that persist in societies around the world.