|© UNICEF India/2006/ Prayas|
|Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert on violence against children, talks to children at the Prayas Institute in New Delhi.|
By Savita Varde-Naqvi
NEW DELHI, India, 20 February 2006 – Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert on violence against children, says India can play a leading role in supporting the recommendations of the forthcoming global Study on the issue.
Mr. Pinheiro has just completed a four-day visit to India, where he commended the country’s readiness to confront the problem of violence against children. Despite a lack of hard statistics, the problem is drawing increased attention from Indian civil society and government authorities.
"It is time we built a culture of zero tolerance for violence against children, especially those who have been socially excluded and marginalized,” said Mr. Pinheiro. “I look to India with hope to lead the change and tip the balance in favour of the world's children."
The UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children is a landmark effort to provide a detailed global picture of the nature, extent and causes of violence against children, and propose clear recommendations for action to prevent and reduce such violence. It will be presented to the General Assembly in October.
|© UNICEF India/2006/ Matta|
|Mr. Pinheiro has just completed a four-day visit to India.|
Seeking children’s inputs
During his visit, Mr. Pinheiro spent time with children from various backgrounds to find out more about what exposure they may have to violence in their daily lives, and about what they thought should be done.
These meetings took place at the PRAYAS Institute of Juvenile Justice in Delhi, at a shelter for girls and at various alternative learning centres.
The UN expert asked the children specifically whether they had ever been hit or slapped by their school teachers or parents. The most common answer was: “Sometimes.”
Mr. Pinheiro encouraged children everywhere to express their views, including on the official website of the Study. “Children in India and around the world have a great opportunity to post their views on our website and contribute to the Study,” he said.
Mr. Pinheiro met with non-governmental organizations and child rights activists to discuss the implications of the Study and how they could use it to help build protective environments for children in India.
He also met with Ms. Renuka Chowdhury, the Minister for Women and Child Development, and with Mr. P. D. T. Achary, Secretary General of Lok Sabha. Mr. Pinheiro expressed his appreciation of the Indian Parliament’s activity in keeping children's issues high on the legislative agenda. He said he hoped the Parliament would become involved in following up the recommendations of the Study through policies and programmes for children.
“Prof. Pinheiro’s visit has come at an important juncture in India,” said UNICEF Representative in India Cecilio Adorna. “I hope it will provide for a strong impetus in bringing the issue of violence against children to the centre stage of public discourse and action in the country.”
Sabine Dolan and Eric Mullerbeck contributed to this report from New York.