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Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

Children speak up against violence

© UNICEF video
Youth delegates at the conference.

By Lucy Ashton

CAIRO, 29 June 2005 – Children’s voices are being heard loud and clear at the UN-sponsored Conference on Violence Against Children here in Cairo. Twenty-seven adolescent boys and girls spoke up in front of more than 200 delegates to proclaim that any form of violence used against children must end now, no matter whether it occurs at home, at school, or in the streets.

The young people, representing nine countries from across the Middle East and northern Africa, have brought sincerity, honesty and often personal insight into the 3-day conference. They speak with courage, especially when describing their own experiences.

“At my school, teachers would punish the children by making them stand in the sun until they collapse,” recalled one seventeen-year-old participant. “We also had to sit on our feet in a way that numbs your legs and really hurts.” He said that such abuse often made the children hate school and resent their teachers.

© UNICEF video
A girl speaks out against violence.

On a large screen, the delegates watched an animated film called ‘Rebellion of the Canes’, made by children in Upper Egypt. The film showed a schoolmaster using a cane to whip the hands of pupils - punished for discussing the score of a football game in class.

Outside the meeting rooms, the children have been active too. They are documenting the event on film, conducting interviews with delegates, and reaching out to the media.

Violence is found in every school, family and street. So far we have turned a blind eye to it,” said seventeen-year-old Aya Lekhyari from Tunis. “Every child has the right to live in peace, without violence. Otherwise, he will become violent himself.”

“Why is it that there are many conferences just like this one, and yet there are so few concrete results?” asked a Yemeni boy to loud applause.

As the conference draws to a conclusion, delegates – adult and child alike – will find that question inspirational in finding ways to end violence against children, once for all.




29 June 2005:
Lucy Ashton reports from Cairo on children’s participation at the Consultation on Violence Against Children in UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa Region.

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