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UNICEF, Government and the Parliament unite to end violence against children in Montenegro

PODGORICA, 26 September 2013 - Within the One in five campaign initiated by the Council of Europe, as well as within the ongoing global campaign initiated by UNICEF under the slogan “End violence against children”, UNICEF conducted a knowledge, attitudes and practice survey about violence against children in Montenegro.

UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks launched the survey in the National Parliament together with the Minister for Human and Minority Rights Suad Numanovic, Parliamentarian and Council of Europe Coordinator of the One in Five campaign for Montenegro Zoran Vukcevic and President of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Freedoms Halil Dukovic.

The survey showed that more than a half of Montenegro’s population (55%) think that there is violence against children in Montenegro. When it comes to the sexual abuse of children, though, nearly every second citizen (46%) believes that it is mainly not present in Montenegro. At the same time, almost one out of ten adult citizens in Montenegro says to know a child or an adult person who was a victim of sexual abuse in childhood.

"We want to challenge the thinking that violence happens somewhere else, to other people and not in our homes, families, schools, communities and society.” UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks pointed out on this occasion. “Just because you can’t see violence against children doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We must make the invisible visible. This is the underlying message of UNICEF’s End Violence Against Children initiative that urges people around the world to recognize violence against children, join global, national or local movements to end it and bring together new ideas to focus collective action on this goal.”

Zoran Vukcevic, Parliamentarian and Council of Europe Coordinator of the One in Five campaign for Montenegro, pointed out to the data that shows that every fifth child in Europe was victim of some sort of sexual violence and that only 10% of these cases get processed even in the most developed countries. “If we add to that the fact that in approximately 70-85% of these cases the abuser was a person with whom the child was familiar and whom the child trusted, we should be seriously concerned about these data. For this reason, the Council of Europe initiated the One in Five campaign.” Mr Vukcevic said.

Montenegro still lacks a reliable data-base on violence against children and this will be one of the priorities for future work. “Based on this survey, various projects will be made in order to define the tasks of all relevant institutions that work on preventing and addressing violence against children adequately” Mr Vukcevic emphasized.

According to the Minister of Human and Minority Rights Suad Numanovic the survey indicates to the need to work on raising awareness of the citizens about different forms of violence and mechanisms to prevent and address it. Before 2002, there was no form of organized multidisciplinary work on the protection of children against violence in Montenegro. In  2002, with UNICEF’s and UNHCR’s support, multidisciplinary teams consisting of social protection, health, judiciary, prosecution, police and NGO professionals were founded. Their work was a great step forward in Montenegro’s child protection system. “I am confident that with the common efforts of all relevant institutions and especially through the multidisciplinary teams for protection against family violence, we will achieve our fundamental goal and that is life without violence” Numanovic pointed out.

Halil Duković, President of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Freedoms, pointed out that Montenegro, as a traditional society, tends to think that it is immune to some problems that are happening in more developed countries. “However, if we look under the surface of traditionalism, we will see that we are coping with all those issue that affect the countries of Western Europe. We are not saved from them and the only difference is that these problems were not visible so far. Surveys like this one make this issue visible” Mr Dukovic concluded.

On this occasion, the survey and the TV commercial with the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson encouraging everyone to become more aware and involved in the universal fight against violence were shared and broadcast by all media in the country.

The survey will be used to define future activities of the Government, Parliament and UNICEF to end violence against children in Montenegro.



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