Unprivileged girls from migrant workers' families in China are more likely to fall victim to sexual assault, a new study has revealed.
Children of migrant workers, whose numbers went up to 260 million last year, face higher chances of assault in developed areas, the report of the joint study by the China Children and Teenagers' Fund and the Research Center for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise said.
The report divulged that underprivileged girls were most vulnerable to sexual offenses in less developed regions and reasoned lack of guardianship as the direct cause for more sexual assault and harassment targeted at them.
Observers said it is a serious problem as China's migrant labour move to cities from rural areas for work, leaving their children with either old parents or relatives.
According to the report, lack of basic guardianship can even lead to repeated and prolonged sexual harassment and assault.
The report is based on analyses by groups of researchers who have collected questionnaires and conducted field studies in Guangdong, Guizhou and Jilin provinces since March of this year, Secretary General of the CCTF, Chen Xiaoxia, said.
Statistics released by the women's federation of Guangdong Province showed migrant girls accounting for up to 88 per cent of sexual assault victims in some districts of Shenzhen, and left-behind girls account for up to 94 per cent of victims in Huazhou.
In one of its key findings, the report suggested that the mentally-disabled girls face higher chances of sexual assault compared with other girls.
The issue of protecting girls from sexual assault was thrown into the spotlight in China after a number of rape scandals were revealed this year.
The report added that victims' lack of prevention awareness and knowledge as well as their fear of being exposed have led to more sexual assaults within families and between neighbours, school teachers and students.