LIMA, 22 November 2006 - This afternoon, the Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development Virginia Borra, together with UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) presented the Secretary General of the United Nations “Study on Violence Against Children”.
UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, who presented the document, indicated that “Most of the violence against children is hidden. Children mistreatment is most of the time done under cover and the authors often are the ones who are supposed to be people in whom children can trust: parents, relatives or acquaintances. Boys and girls usually suffer in silence, they are afraid to talk because of shame or retaliation”.
In turn, Mirta Roses, PAHO Director and WHO Regional Director for the Americas said, “Regional studies indicate that most of the children that abandon their homes do so because of violence situations within their families the violent situation is unsustainable. Most of the time it is not directed against them, but to their mothers or sisters”.
Minister of Women´s Affairs Virginia Borra emphasized the high priority that President García´s government is placing on this issue, and said that “this issue should concern society as a whole and the current Government will tackle this issue in a structural and decentralized way”.
This report, presented in the Office of the President of the Council of Ministers, indicates that we have the knowledge and capacity to put an end to violence against children. What is needed is a moral, social and political commitment of every actor in society. According to the document’s recommendations, “States should invest in evidenced-based programmes to attack the causal factors of violence. UNICEF works, and will continue working based on the evidence found during the process of the Study in Latin America and the Caribbean, to collaborate with governments and civil society to create these conditions. The best way to treat violence is to keep it from happening”.
In addition, at the presentation of the Study, a diagnosis on the Peruvian situation was made public, analyzing the situation of violence experienced by the country’s children and adolescents. While people under 18 constitute 38 per cent of the country’s total population, thousands of these children are growing up in environments of violence that may include their own home, their family, and their school, care systems established by the justice system, their workplaces and their community.
The period of greatest vulnerability to abuse is between ages 10 and 17. However, the smaller children are, the fewer possibilities they have of reporting any kind of violence and, worse yet, of sexual violence.
Regarding this last point, the data gathered for the diagnosis on violence against children in Peru show that the cases reported in 2005 (4,862) might not seem significant when compared to the total population of children and adolescent, it should be noted that these are merely the cases that were reported. According to the researchers, reported cases only represent between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of those that actually occur.
Family violence is another factor analyzed in the document. In 2006 in 59.49 per cent of the cases (4,449) the responsible for practicing violence against a child is a family member.
The Secretary General of the United Nations’ world-wide Study on Violence against Children, and the Peru diagnosis will also be presented in three other regions in the country: Cusco, Ayacucho and Iquitos. Last Sunday, new authorities were elected in these three regions, where a high prevalence of violence exists. With these new authorities an advocacy approach is being developed. This will lead to include violence against Peruvian children in the Regional Government agendas.
About UNICEF For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.