Launching Children’s Day celebrations, UNICEF Iran Representative calls for plan of action against child abuse
TEHRAN, 7 October 2007 – UNICEF’s Representative in Iran, Christian Salazar, encouraged the Iranian Government today to develop and implement as soon as possible an action plan against child abuse.
Speaking at a press conference to kick off a series of UNICEF-sponsored events to celebrate this year’s Children’s Day, Mr Salazar said that such a move would represent a highly significant step forward and make a real difference for the lives of many children in Iran.
“There are very special gifts every child can receive on any day of the year, not only on Children’s Day: kindness, care and attention. Sadly, some children do not receive such gifts in their day-to-day lives. Instead, they are neglected by the very same adults that are supposed to take care of them, or are subject to verbal abuse or even physical violence.
“We are happy to witness the interest and commitment of Iran’s citizens and government to prevent all forms of violence against children in its society,” he said. “A plan of action against child abuse would be an important cornerstone of such an engagement. It would require the strong support of civil society, the media, parents, teachers – in short, everyone who works with and for children.”
Concluding the five-year global UNICEF campaign, “A World Fit for Children,” this year’s Children’s Day is being celebrated in Iran under the additional theme of “A World Free of Violence.” The theme directly connects to a 5-year UNICEF project undertaken with the Iranian Government, which focuses on the prevention of child abuse. It includes initiatives such as child hotlines, law development and codes of conduct for caretakers, as well as the training of government staff in early detection and awareness-raising of child abuse.
UNICEF Iran also worked with some of the country’s most eminent Shi’ite religious leaders to produce a booklet that comprises their views on the treatment of children by adults and violence-free discipline. To encourage the wider Iranian public to celebrate Children’s Day under the theme of violence against children and better parenting skills, the booklet – together with an extensive information package on the issue – was sent out to more than 300 governmental and non-governmental organizations, schools and the media.
UNICEF Iran will celebrate Children’s Day with a full week of cultural events, which were organized together with Karnameh Cultural Artistic Institute. Negar Eskandarfar, who heads Karnameh, says that during her past years of training young people on cultural and artistic activities, she had come across many of them that were emotionally scarred during their childhood.
“This is the reason why for a long time I have wanted to create an opportunity that harnesses the talents of children and youth, providing them with the facilities to explore their capacities. With UNICEF Iran, we have been able to use Children’s Day as a window of opportunity to foster the public’s understanding of children’s need and their concerns,” she said.
These events, which will take place at the Iranian Artists Forum, include film presentations by famous directors such as Kamboozia Partovi, a puppet theatre performance, painting competitions and book readings by well-known Iranian artists. These will include UNICEF Iran’s Goodwill Ambassador Mahtab Keramati, as well as her fellow actors, Ezzatollah Entezami, Iraj Tahmaseb, Leyli Rashidi and Hamed Behdad, and the film director, Marzieh Borumand. The activities are meant to engage both children and adults, to allow for an interactive engagement of youth with their parents, teachers or caretakers. The events at the Artists Forum are open to everyone and are for free for all visitors.