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MENA consultation on violence against children

CAIRO / 26 June 2005 - The first regional meeting dealing exclusively with violence against children is opening tomorrow amid calls for countries in the region to do more to prevent physical and psychological harm to young people.

“A wall of silence has been broken,” said Rima Salah, Unicef’s Deputy Executive Director. “This region has a very strong culture of caring for children and people are now willing to discuss these issues.  This forms a key element in strengthening a protective environment for children in the future.”

More than 250 people, including delegates from 22 countries in the region, staff from UN agencies and childcare agencies are taking part in the three day meeting in Cairo. Among the delegates will be 27 children from Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen.

Hosting the event is the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood.  Ambassador Moushira Khattab, Secretary General of NCCM said before the opening “The most challenging forms of violence against children are those that are acquiesced to by the prevailing culture. Corporal punishment and domestic violence are just such examples. The media has an important role in educating people to refuse these practices.”

Leading the delegates from civil society is Dr Ayman Abu Laban, Secretary General of The Arab Council for Children. “Rallying community support and including civil society is essential in dealing with such sensitive and controversial issues as violence against children,” he explained. “It helps people to understand that solutions are coming from the community itself and not simply being imposed by government or outside organisations.”

The conference will examine how children are affected by violence in four settings: the home and family, schools, the workplace, on the street. In particular the issues of early marriage, honour killings, child labour and violence in prisons and care institutions will be highlighted, along with examples of practical solutions that already exist in the region. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, a practice found in some parts of the region, will also be discussed.

A Plan of Action will be produced to press local governments and civil society into action.

Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, the UN’s Independent Expert on Violence against Children will be among the keynote speakers. The subsequent Middle East report will be one of nine produced by Mr Pinheiro that will inform the global study on Violence against Children to be presented by the Secretary General to the UN General Assembly in 2006.

For further information please contact:

M. Anis Salem
Regional Communication Adviser
UNICEF MENA-RO
E-mail :asalem@unicef.org
Mobile: 962-79-557-9991


 

 

 

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