UNICEF and legislators from around world launch handbook and say violence and abuse can be overcome by determined governments and parliamentsBALI / INDONESIA, 2 May 2007 - At the 116th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), meeting in Nusa Dua (Indonesia), UNICEF and IPU members said more can be done to halt violence against children in every country.
According to the United Nations Secretary General’s recently released study on the subject, violence against children is widespread, underacknowledged and extremely damaging. The physical, emotional and psychological scars of violence can have severe implications for a child’s development, health and ability to learn.
“The best way to deal with violence against children is to stop it before it happens,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Toshi Niwa. “Working through coordinated national strategies to prevent and respond to violence against children, governments and parliaments must build a protective environment that allows children to live without the threat of abuse and exploitation.”
“Violence perpetuates poverty, illiteracy and early mortality,” said the IPU President, Pier Ferdinando Casini. “Widespread violence robs society of its potential for development and impedes progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.”
To help parliaments tackle this problem, UNICEF and the IPU have launched a handbook designed specifically for parliamentarians. “With this handbook, we hope that parliaments will have some of the tools they need to create a more protective environment for children,” President Casini added.
The parliamentarians and international organizations from over 100 countries attending the week-long meeting in Indonesia are discussing strategies to enhance religious tolerance, promote equal rights and combat violence against children.
“It is great to see so many legislators here committed to taking action to end violence,” said Niwa. “Parliamentarians can and should be among the foremost champions of child protection. They can legislate, oversee government activity, allocate financial resources and, as leaders within their nations, advocate for change.”
Established in 1889 and with its Headquarters in Geneva, the IPU, the oldest multilateral political organization, currently has 148 affiliated national parliaments and seven associated regional assemblies. The world organization of parliaments also has an Office in New York, which acts as its permanent observer with the United Nations.
UNICEF works in 150 countries. It undertakes child protection programmes in almost all of them, focusing on children without caregivers, the worst forms of child labour, and violence against children. Over the last two years, the organization has allocated over 240 million dollars to its work on child protection.
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Unicef website: www.unicef.org/media.