UN Study on Violence against Children launched in Iran
Tehran, 14 May 2007 – The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children, the first comprehensive global effort to provide a detailed picture of the nature, extent and causes of violence against children and to propose clear recommendations for action to prevent and respond to it, was launched today in Tehran.
The launching event was attended by Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the independent expert appointed by the Secretary-General to lead the Study. Officials from Iran’s Ministries of Health and of Welfare, the judiciary, Tehran’s juvenile correction centre, UNICEF Iran, as well as child rights advocates, diplomats and the media also took part in the launch.
“The best way to deal with violence against children is to stop it before it happens,” said Professor Pinheiro.
“Everyone has a role to play in this, but states must take primary responsibility. That means prohibiting all kinds of violence against children, wherever it occurs and whoever is the perpetrator, and investing in prevention programmes to address the underlying causes.
“People must be held accountable for their actions but a strong legal framework is not only about sanctions, it is about sending a robust, unequivocal signal that society just will not accept violence against children.”
The report concludes that violence against children happens within all social groups, in every country and society. Most violent acts against children are carried out by people they know and should be able to trust including parents, schoolmates, teachers and employers. The report also points out that much of the violence that affects children is socially approved or condoned, sometimes permitted by national laws or rooted in cultural, economic or social practices.
"Child abuse and violence against children exists in many countries all over the world. The recommendations of the Study are also valid for Iran, but more research needs to be done to obtain an overview on the extent of this problem,” said Christian Salazar-Volkmann, UNICEF Representative in Iran.
“In addition, more comprehensive efforts are needed to combat violence against children. UNICEF Iran works together with the Iranian government in improving the communication on child care and protection, and provides ideas on how parents and professionals in this field, such as medical doctors, counsellors, the police and social workers, can work together to protect all children. We also encourage Iran to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.”
Dr. Emran Mohammad Razzaghi, Director General of the Ministry of Health’s Bureau for Psycho-Social and School Health, added that: "Child maltreatment is a huge global problem with a serious impact on the victims’ physical and mental health, well-being and development, and on society in general.”
“The health and rights of children are emphasized in Islam and our own culture. In recent years, stakeholders working in these two fields in Iran, including the Ministry of Health, have focused more rigorously on service delivery to beneficiaries and interventions to prevent the maltreatment of children.”
Iran's Ministry of Health has begun tackling the problem by developing a joint cooperation project with UNICEF from 2005 to 2009 that aims at improving research and knowledge about child abuse and to develop standards in the early detection of the issue. The project also includes training of health staff in these standards, to raise awareness and to introduce services for children in distress, such as telephone helplines.
Although much violence remains hidden or unreported, and figures therefore often underestimate the scope of the problem, the statistics in the report reveal a startling picture. For example:
In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 53,000 children aged 0-17 died as a result of homicide;
According to the International Labour Office’s (ILO) latest estimates, 5.7 million children were in forced or bonded labour, 1.8 million in prostitution and pornography, and 1.2 million were victims of trafficking in 2000.
In 16 developing countries reviewed by a Global School-Based Health Survey, the percentage of school-aged children that reported having been verbally or physically bullied at school in the previous 30 days ranged from 20 per cent in some countries to as much as 65 per cent in others;
According to the Study, children in detention are frequently subjected to violence by staff, including as a form of control or punishment, often for minor infractions. In 77 countries, corporal and other violent punishments are accepted as legal disciplinary measures in penal institutions.
The report to the General Assembly calls for a wide range of actions to prevent and respond to violence against children wherever it occurs. Twelve overarching recommendations address areas such as national strategies and systems, data collection and ensuring accountability.
At a global level, the report calls for the appointment of a Special Representative on Violence against Children, with an initial mandate of four years, to act as a high-profile global advocate to promote prevention and elimination of all violence against children and to encourage cooperation and follow-up.
About the United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children
In 2001, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to conduct “an in-depth study on the question of violence against children.” An independent expert, Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, was appointed to lead the Study, in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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.