MENA consultation calls for an alternative culture to violence against childrenEvery child has the right to be protected from all forms of violence MENA Regional Consultation on Violence Against Children 27 – 29 June 2005
CAIRO, 29 June 2005 - Delegates attending the UN’s Regional Consultation for the Middle East and North Africa wrapped up their 3 day meeting with a declaration calling for the creation of a culture that condemns any violence against children.
The Consultation’s recommendations focused on the importance of the family unit as the key to success in combating violence in the home, at school, and on the streets.
“The issue of violence starts with the family and ends with the family,” said Ambassador Moushira Khatab, Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. “The solution lies in raising awareness in the family on how to discipline the child without resorting to violence.”
While paying respect to the religions and values of the region, the declaration states that some people abuse them as a pretext to commit violence against children.
“There are certain alien practices introduced in our culture that constitute blatant violence against our sons and daughters,” the declaration says. “These practices must be banned.
” Over the past 3 days, the consultation has heard testimonies and seen graphic evidence of many kinds of violence against children, including female genital mutilation, sexual abuse and honor killings. Whilst these practices are not shared by all countries in the MENA region, they are serious enough to warrant immediate attention.
Follow up mechanisms for reporting complaints in schools, institutions and at home were among the main recommendations proposed by the more than 600 delegates from 20 countries.
One recommendation put forward by the delegation of children attending the consultation involved the setting up of committees in schools to monitor reports of violence and to raise awareness.
The participation of children at the consultation has been crucial to the forum’s discussions. As 15 year old Bassem Abdel Salam explained, “The problem is that the adults may understand the violence but we feel it. We can give a clear perspective of reality rather than a theoretical one. We are the victims, not the perpetrators.
” The recommendations put forward by the MENA delegates will form part of a UN global report to be presented to the General Assembly at the end of 2006.
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