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At a glance: Japan

Ann M. Veneman and Agnes Chan launch ‘Progress for Children’ in Tokyo

© UNICEF Tokyo/2009/Akifoto
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman releases ‘Progress for Children’ report with Japan Goodwill Ambassador Agnes Chan at the Japan Committee for UNICEF in Tokyo.

TOKYO, Japan, 6 October 2009 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, accompanied by UNICEF Japan Goodwill Ambassador Agnes Chan, released ‘Progress for Children: A Report Card on Child Protection’ at a press conference held at the Tokyo office of the Japan Committee for UNICEF today.

While progress is being made in reducing some violations of children’s rights, the report finds that not enough is yet known about the extent of abuses against children. Violence and exploitation remain a harsh reality in the lives of many young people around the world.

Executive Director Veneman noted that the report was being released just six weeks before the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. “The evidence of continuing harm and abuse must inspire the world to greater effort to guarantee the rights of all children, everywhere,” she said.

Children in need of protection
For her part, Ms. Chan recalled meeting many children in need of protection during the field visits she has made since her appointment as a UNICEF Ambassador in 1998.

For example, she remembered a visit with three very young child sex workers from Thailand and Myanmar. When she saw a massive flow of people at the border crossing in Cambodia, and heard that children could come and go freely without proper identification papers, she understood how easy it was for traffickers to do business.

In the Philippines, Ms. Chan met child sex workers and street children. In Kenya, she met orphans who were abandoned by villagers due to the stigma associated with HIV. These children often had no other choice but to sell themselves in the cities, she said.

Effective measures
Ms. Chan noted, as well, the stigma attached to victims of sexual violence – including girls whose families were reluctant to let her speak with them, fearing that the girls would never be able to marry if the truth about their tragic experiences came out.

“We have to become the voice of such children who do not talk about their suffering, and we must protect them,” said Ms. Chan. Referring to ‘Progress for Children’, she added: “The data in this report is an important tool to convince people to take effective measures against the violation of children’s right for protection.”




5 October 2009:
UNICEF correspondent Amy Bennett reports on the findings and the call to action in ‘Progress for Children: A Report Card on Child Protection’.
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