Speech by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director on End Violence Against Children campaign
18 June 2014, Port Moresby - Honorable Minister for Community Development, Loujaya Kouza, Secretary for the Department for Community Development, Anna Solomon, Distinguished Guests, Members of the Diplomatic Corp, Development partners, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen.
A very warm greeting to all of you.
I am honoured to be here with you today and particularly pleased to participate in the launch of the #END Violence initiative – which is rapidly gaining momentum throughout the world.
By virtue of your presence here today – the joining of government officials, civil society, faith based organizations, development partners, the media and children themselves – I recognize there is a deep commitment to end violence throughout Papua New Guinea.
From our work at UNICEF and with all of our partners across the world, we know all too well that violence against children – be it physical, emotional or sexual abuse -- happens everywhere, in every country, every community and every segment of society.
But all too often, it is hidden in the shadows. Too many people turn a blind eye. And far too many children lack the confidence and the means to speak out, to tell a trusted adult, to find a safe space.
Violence does more than harm individual children; it undermines the very fabric of society. Children who have been abused may experience difficulty in learning and socialization, compromising their ability to become productive adults and citizens.
Violence against children is never acceptable. What we know now is that we CAN protect children from violence. That it is preventable.
But to do so, we all have a role to play. This includes governments and lawmakers, parents, extended families, teachers, religious and community members and the media.
We must all begin by shining a light on violence and speaking up no matter where it occurs. By making the Invisible Visible.
This is at the very heart of the #END Violence campaign launched last year in July – a campaign that is rapidly growing into a global movement. International political will has never been stronger. Today, nearly 70 countries and hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life have joined the call. They are speaking up and are taking action to end violence against children by making the Invisible Visible.
Only a few weeks ago in Swaziland, a global meeting on violence against children, organized by UNICEF and partners, saw government officials, experts and NGOs from 20 countries share the data they have compiled from national surveys and discuss the best actions to take in the future to prevent and respond to this scourge. For example, the conference recommended greater investment in social protection measures and parent education programmes. And yet another recommendation focused on prevention and response to violence by keeping schools safe while at the same time supporting One Stop Centres(services similar to Family Support Centre in Papua New Guinea), which bring together all the services needed for children who have experienced physical and sexual violence.
What cannot remain invisible, though, are our efforts to address violence in national development strategies. I cannot stress enough, as we have learned from so many countries worldwide, the importance of placing the protection of children from violence at the centre of the national development agenda.
One of the mission statement of PNG’s Vision 2050 is to ensure a safe and secure environment for all citizens. Unfortunately, violence remains a harsh reality for many children. While there are no nationally representative studies on violence against children in Papua New Guinea, small scale studies consistently demonstrate that about:
8 out of 10 children experience emotional violence; 7 out of 10 experience physical abuse and Many more children grow up witnessing family violence and experiencing its negative effects.
This campaign calls on citizens, law makers and faith leaders to "Talk Out, and Take Action to #End violence against children and to provide medical, legal aid and psychosocial support for survivors.
Talk out- and challenge cultural and traditional excuses and compensation practices. Inform parents of positive ways of disciplining children. Encourage citizens to report cases of violence to authorities and encourage children to tell adults they trust if they experience violence.
Take action: Collectively, we can call for greater investment from government to facilitate the implementation of the Child Protection Act (Lukuatim Pikinini Act). Scale up Family Support Centres. Support and scale up positive parenting programmes. Call on neighbours, friends and faith communities to speak up, take action and help when a child suffers violence.
UNICEF remains committed to supporting the national efforts in ending violence against children. Together, let us commit by making certain that every child counts, to ensuring that every girl and every boy in Papua New Guinea can grow up in a world feeling secure and protected.
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/