Girls in at least 70 countries are facing increasing threats, targeted killings and violence for trying to go to school, the UN human rights office, has said.

"Attacks against girls accessing education persist and, alarmingly, appear in some countries to be occurring with increasing regularity," the OHCHR said in a paper looking at attacks on girls seeking to access education, published on Tuesday.

"According to UN sources, more than 3,600 separate attacks against educational institutions, teachers and students were recorded in 2012 alone."

The report went on to remark that the exclusion or marginalisation of girls within the educational, political and economic realm means they are often unable to demand equal access to particular human rights.

The result, it argues, becomes a cycle of impunity reinforcing a subordinate social status for girls.

The right to education plays a "catalytic role in promoting substantive equality between men and women" in regards to economic, political, cultural and health development outcomes, the report said.

Underlying discrimination

Recent attacks targeting girls include the abduction of 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria by the armed group Boko Haram and the shooting of education activist Malala Yousafzai by members of the Taliban in Pakistan.

Many girls are the target of sexual violence, abduction, intimidation and harassment during war and peacetime resulting in lower attendance rates at schools, the report said.

In Pakistan's Swat, the Taliban's attacks and violent threats against girls, their families and teachers resulted in 120,000 female students and 8,000 female teachers ceasing to attend schools in 2009.

However, there have been other instances in which girls were targeted for their higher level of education.

The Lords' Resistance Army in Uganda targeted secondary school girls because of their superior literacy which made them valuable recruits for military communications work.

The motivations for the attacks, in particular the underlying discrimination and gender stereotyping has aided in preventing girls from accessing education opportunities, the OHCR said.

The report concluded that violence against schoolgirls cannot be preventing without addressing broader patterns discrimination against women and girls.

Source: Agencies