Stop violence against children
Maputo, 1 June 2005 – Mozambique dedicated International Children’s Day 2005 on 1 June to the protection of children against violence and abuse. “Violence against children is a crime and no private affair. Children have the right to be protected against violence and abuse,” said UNICEF Representative Leila Pakkala during the central event with Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza in Maputo, which involved many partners such as Graça Machel’s NGO FDC.
Information about the extent of violence and abuse of children in Mozambique is very scarce and anecdotal. The data available, however, draws a grim picture of the reality many children – especially girls - are faced with. The police-run Centres for Assistance registered some 300 cases of violence and abuse against children between 2001 and 2003. Half of all cases involving girls aged 0 to 12 years were acts of sexual abuse. And acording to the last Government report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (2001), there are children as young as 10 in Mozambique who are commercially sexually exploited.
“Acts of violence against children often occur behind closed doors, where children are most vulnerable and exposed. We have to break the wall of silence associated to it. This is a responsibility for everyone,” said Ms. Pakkala in her message.
Children organised in various organisations used the opportunity of the celebrations of International Children’s Day to commemorate the violent death of the President of the Maputo Child Parliament, Aida Alberto, on 20 March 2005. The 17-year-old girl had been stabbed during an assault. The children delivered banners with thousands of signatures to President Guebuza requesting strong action to end all forms of violence against children.