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Networks across the Arab region to lend a hand in stamping out violence against children

SANA’A, 20 June 2007 – The wrap-up of a three day conference on child abuse and neglect here today provided insightful contributions from government delegations, national and regional organizations, human rights advocates, civil society, NGOs, child rights professionals, specialists and institutions as well as child activists themselves towards the refinement of coordination mechanisms to prevent and root out various enduring manifestations of violence against children throughout the Arab region.

The Second Arab Regional Conference of the ISPCAN (International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) saw experts from dozens of national, regional and international organizations deliberate around the multitude of complex, long-standing issues involving physical and psychological harm which continue to affect women and children on an almost daily basis.

Organized by the Yemeni Higher Council for Childhood and Motherhood and supported by UNICEF, the conference took account of ardent discussion about deeply rooted traditions like early marriage as well as dialogue on innovative approaches to properly handle cases of children in institutional care. Civil society speakers also brought up the need to review existing legislations to ban child labour and ensuing practices of exploitation.

“What would be the difference between abuse and discipline as conventionally exercised by our parents or teachers?” asked a child participant. Reactions were varied, differing and nothing short of heated.

Recommendations issued on the final day of the conference include

• the establishment of Government and NGO-supported task forces at the national level involving parents and communities in the prevention and denunciation of violence against children
• updated analysis of incidents of corporal punishment and sexual harassment in schools and in the family environment;
• the identification of a group of volunteer lawyers and legal experts to assist social networks and other professionals in the preparation of awareness programmes;
• a periodic assessment of financial and technical needs for medical institutions and health professionals to provide continued effort in terms of psychosocial counselling to child victims of abuse;
• the development of legally-endorsed mechanisms to allow for hospitals and medical institutions to report cases of child abuse;
• comprehensive reforms at the judiciary level to ban excessive forms of child labour

In his concluding remarks today, UNICEF Yemen Representative, Aboudou Karimou Adjibade stated that “the “abuse, neglect and exploitation of children are all of equal priority and need to be addressed with the same determination and energy”.

“What stands out notably from this deliberation is the sense of unanimity and collective willingness to embark in durable partnerships to strengthen the operations of existing networks in what seems a promising alliance to wipe out all forms of violence practised against this region’s children. This is both remarkable and unprecedented”, stated Karin Landgren, global head of UNICEF’s child protection division.

The conference brought to a conclusion today also served as preparatory stage for the upcoming review next week in Cairo of the implementation of activities emanating from the UN Global Study on Violence Against Children, published in October 2006. The First Arab ISPCAN Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect was held in Jordan in 2004 under the patronage of Her Majesty, Queen Rania Al Abdullah, also UNICEF’s Eminent Advocate for Children.

For further information please contact:

Wolfgang Friedl, Communication Officer, UNICEF MENA-RO: Tel + 9626-5502-422; Mobile: 00-96279-573-2745 ; E-mail: wfriedl@unicef.org

Trish Hiddleston, UNICEF MENA-RO Regional Child Protection Advisor; Mobile: +962 79-9747678; E-mail: thiddleston@unicef.org

Naseem-Ur-Rehman, Chief of Communication, UNICEF –Yemen: Tel +967-1-211400, ext. no. 138; E-mail: nrehman@unicef.org




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