PNG joins global partnership to end violence against children
PNG becomes 33rd Pathfinding country
PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, 28 MAY 2021 - Papua New Guinea has joined the global partnership to help end violence against children. By joining the partnership, PNG has also become a Pathfinding country.
The country's Minister for Community Development and Religion, Wake Goi highlighted the situation of violence against children in Papua New Guinea when making this announcement:
Violence against children (VAC) in Papua New Guinea - VAC in Papua New Guinea is very widespread. Although comprehensive data are scarce, researches and studies show that 75 per cent of children experience some form of violence during their childhood, often perpetrated within the home or school environment; 43 per cent of women aged 15 to 19 years have experienced physical and/or sexual violence; nearly one third of women aged 20-24 years reported marriage by age 18 in PNG (DHS 2016-18), and 14% adolescent girls (15-19 years) have experienced sexual violence and coercion.
VAC has lifelong impacts on health and well-being of children, families, communities, and nations. Not only violence can result in death or severe injuries; but also, exposure to violence at an early age can impair brain development and damage other parts of the nervous system, with lifelong consequences. As such, VAC can negatively affect cognitive development and results in educational and vocational under-achievement, thereby affecting development outcome of a community and of the society at large. Children exposed to violence and other adversities are substantially more likely to smoke, misuse alcohol and drugs, and engage in high-risk sexual behavior as adults. They also have higher rates of anxiety, depression, other mental health problems and suicide. Violence also leads to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Children exposed to violence and other adversities are more likely to drop out of school, have difficulty finding and keeping a job, and are at heightened risk for later victimization and/or perpetration of interpersonal and self-directed violence, by which violence against children can affect the next generation, bearing a financial burden for the health, education and social welfare system of the country.
The Global Partnership to end Violence Against Children: ending violence against children is right, smart and possible. It’s right because every child should grow up safe and secure. It’s smart because violence undermines investments in children’s health, education, and development, with significant direct and indirect costs; investing to prevent violence and break intergenerational cycles of abuse makes economic sense. And it’s possible — we know what works to stop it.
Driven by this vision, the End Violence against Children Partnership was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2016 as a platform for collective advocacy, action and investment to end this plague and support countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The main objective of Pathfinding is to raise awareness, stimulate leadership commitment to action and establish a standard of national violence prevention in many countries.
Pathfinding Countries should: i) Make a formal, public commitment to comprehensive action to end all forms of violence against children; ii) Request to become a Pathfinder within the End Violence Partnership. This request was made by the Government of Papua New Guinea through the National Office of Child and Family Services on the 19th of March 2021 (enclosed to this submission). A positive response was received on the 13th of April 2021 from the Executive Director of the Global Partnership to end VAC (enclosed to this submission).
As of February 2021, The End Violence Partnership has 32 Pathfinding Countries. Papua New Guinea is the 33th country and the first one in the Pacific Region to join this network, setting a precedent and an example for other Pacific Nations.
Commitment and mandate to end violence against children (VAC): The mandate to implement policy and laws pertaining child protection, including the eradication of violence, abuse and neglect, falls under the jurisdiction of the National Office for Child and Family Services (NOCFS). NOCFS is established under Section 12 of the Lukautim Pikinini Act. Furthermore, the Child Protection Policy 2017-2027 formulates the strategies and actions required to ensure the protection of children.
Ranking of PNG in Child Protection: The Government of Papua New Guinea consider issue of child and family protection one of the key development priorities of the country. It has anchored the issue in several national development plans of the country including the Vision 2050 development platform, Development Strategic Plan (2010 -2030) and Medium-Term Development Plan III, 2018. The Government has also established specific policy and legal framework such as the National Child Protection Policy (NCPC) and the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015 (LPA) to address the plight of this segment of the national population. However, despite anchoring issues of child and family protection in national development plans of the country and despite being signatory to a number of the United Nations Conventions including the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC), the efforts of Papua New Guinea to address issues of child and family protection continue to trail behind those of other countries in the Asia and Pacific Regions.
Efforts to eliminate VAC in PNG and alignment with the Global Partnership criteria:
Within 18 months of Pathfinding status being confirmed by the End Violence Secretariat, Pathfinding Country governments are expected to:
- Appoint a senior government focal point to lead the in-country process;
- Convene and support a multi-stakeholder group. This multi-stakeholder group already exists in Papua New Guinea, namely the National Council for Child and Family Services, established by the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015 (LPA).
- Collect, structure and analyse data on violence against children. Progress has been made on this with the development of the Primero data collection system approved by the State Solicitor and pending official launch.
- Develop an evidence-based and costed National Action Plan (NAP) that sets commitments for 3-5 years, and a related resource mobilization plan;
- Implement the plan by scaling-up evidence-based programs;
- Evaluating the National Action Plan.
The Child Protection Policy Implementation Plan provides the foundation for meeting commitment 4, 5 and 6. With this partnership it will facilitate the development of the evidence-based and costed National Action Plan to implement in the next 3-5years with resource mobilisation and tracking plan.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Papua New Guinea, visit https://www.unicef.org/png/