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Kazakhstan: Stop Violence against Children -- Act Now!

© UNICEF/SWZK00341/Begisheva
A group of Kazakh children

Astana, 27 July 2005. STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN: ACT NOW!  This was the slogan for the press conference held today by the Ombudsperson of Kazakhstan, together with UNICEF, to discuss the results of the Regional Consultation on Violence against Children in Europe and Central Asia, which took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 5-7 July 2005.

The Regional Consultation was one of nine conducted worldwide under the auspices of UNICEF, the Council of Europe, the World Health Organization, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the NGO Advisory Panel on the UN Study on Violence Against Children. The results of these Consultations will be reflected in a major study by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on Violence Against Children that is due out in 2006.

Participants in the press conference included Yelena Selchonok, UNICEF Kazakhstan Officer in Charge as well as members of the Kazakhstani delegation at the Consultation – Ombudsperson Bolat Baikadamov, Senator Beksultan Tutkushev, Deputy Chairman of the National Family and Women’s Affairs Commission, Argyngazy Karaiganov, Chief Inspector of the Ministry of Internal Affairs juvenile delinquency division, Valeriya Kuliyeva and the Head of the Republican Additional Education Center Nurlan Jamadilov. The President of the Crisis Centers Union of Kazakhstan, Zulfiya Baisakova, was also there to meet the journalists.

The participants outlined the major findings of the Ljubljana Consultation, which focused on the prevention and elimination of violence against children at home, in schools, in residential institutions and in the community, as well as the urgent need to adopt effective national measures to protect children from violence.

The problem of violence against children remains invisible, partly because of limited information and partly because of the fact that children themselves are rarely heard, despite their right to protection from all forms of discrimination.

Ms. Selchonok, UNICEF Kazakhstan Officer in Charge, described the current situation: “Unfortunately, in Kazakhstan there is no effective system of prevention and reaction to violence against children. The majority of such cases remain unregistered. Often a child, who has become a witness or a subject of violent acts, has no one to appeal to for help; this is particularly true for cases, when an aggressor is one of the child’s parents or a relative”.

Available data for Kazakhstan speak for themselves (from the Questionnaire prepared by the Ombudsperson’s Office in the Republic of Kazakhstan for the Ljubljana Consultation):

·         According to the data of the Committee for Legal Statistics and Special Records of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan of the 3,428 crimes against children registered in 2003, the majority include the murders of newborn babies, violent acts of sexual nature, rapes, tortures and beatings;

·         For many years the state and the society aimed to place children without parental care in residential institutions, rather than addressing the underlying causes of family problems;

·         Even today, in some schools and residential institutions in Kazakhstan, beatings are seen as “educational measures” for children;

·         The Alternative Report of Non-Governmental Organizations of Kazakhstan to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Almaty, 2002) shows that 80 per cent of children in residential schools are treated “cruelly”;

·         Only 1 % of all appeals to the Ombudsperson’s Office in the Republic of Kazakhstan are related to violation of children’s rights.

The complex consequences and worst forms of violence against children at homes, in schools, residential institutions and communities may include, but not be limited to, suicides, disabilities, low self-esteem, alcoholism, drug addiction, smoking and an increase in the number of families where violence becomes the norm.

A child is a particularly vulnerable victim of violence, whether it is physical, psychological or sexual. UNICEF believes that there must be a policy of zero tolerance towards violence against children. Parliamentarians, government officials, civil society organizations and mass media play a pivotal role in forming child-friendly attitudes and establishing effective systems of child protection based on respect towards child dignity and human rights with the special accent to vulnerability of children due to their age and development.

For more information:

Gauhar Abdygaliyeva, Communication Officer, UNICEF Kazakhstan (+ 7 3172) 32 83 07,  gabdygaliyeva@unicef.org

 

 
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