Shocking report exposes depth of problem as UN launches bid to end violence against children
The Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Anthony Lake said yesterday that one billion children suffered physical, sexual and psychological abuse in 2015, “whether in school, at home or via the internet,” Lake said.
His comments came as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a new partnership and fund aimed at fighting violence against children yesterday.
Ban yesterday unveiled “End Violence Against Children — The Global Partnership,” which brings together governments, foundations, academia and the private sector to try to end the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and conflict-created violence against children by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A trust fund has been established to support the partnership and the British government kicked off fundraising with a 40-million-pound (about US$54 million) contribution.
The UK funding will be dispersed over the next four years and will focus on ending online child sexual exploitation.
“Online child sexual exploitation is a global crime that transcends borders, and demands a global response,” said Baroness Joanna Shields, UK minister for Internet Safety and Security. “This important new fund will help tackle this abhorrent crime and protect children no matter where they live in the world.”
The UN secretary-general meanwhile looked further afield.
“The Global Partnership to End Violence against Children is mobilizing the world,” said Ban. “There could be no more meaningful way to help realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that as many as a billion children around the world have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence and one in five girls is sexually abused at least once in her life.
Globally, one in four children suffers physical abuse in 2015. Nearly one in five girls is sexually abused at least once in her life, while every five minutes, a child dies as a result of violence.
“Violence against children is a problem shared by every society — so the solution must also be shared,” said UNICEF head Lake yesterday, who serves as founding co-chair of the Global Partnership Board.
“When we protect children from violence we not only prevent individual tragedies and support children’s development and growth. In doing so, we also support the strength and stability of their societies,” he added.
“Every day, in every country and every community, children are victimized by violence — and far too often, this violence is accepted as normal, permissible, or a private matter,” said Susan Bissell, Director of the Global Partnership.
“Violence against children is not inevitable if we challenge the status quo that harms the lives and futures of so many children. Every child has the right to grow up free from violence and we all need to work together to realize that vision,” she added.
Plans and packages
At the launch event, government ministers from Sweden, Mexico, Indonesia and Tanzania committed to developing specific plans that will combat violence against children, including tackling behaviours and traditions that further violence, making schools and institutions safe for all children, and strengthening data collection about violence and children, among other efforts.
The Global Partnership today also launched a new “Inspire” package of seven strategies to prevent violence against children.
The package was created with the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC, End Violence Against Children, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Together for Girls, UNICEF, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank.
The new strategies include parent and caregiver support programmes, life skills training, the implementation and enforcement of laws, and services for victims.
UNICEF considers Latin America one of the most unequal regions in the world and there remain staggering gaps in policies that continue to leave millions of other children and their families in the region at risk.
The Fund says more than 40 percent of the Latin American population of 510 million people is under 18 years of age, and more than half of the region’s children and adolescents live in conditions of poverty.
Official data released yesterday relating to pregnancies and sexual violence showed that each day in Peru three girls under the age of 14 become mothers.
“Early-age pregnancies are related to sexual violence against women, as six out of 10 accusations for this crime come from teenagers and there is a tendency to normalize these attitudes,” said Elena Zúñiga, Peru’s representative for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The situation of minors in the country was reported during a meeting titled “Investing in Adolescent Girls Under 15 Years old,” organized by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations.
Pregnancy in girls between 10 and 14 years old “hasn’t been visible due to the lack of statistics,” official sources said.
The UNFPA official regretted the “specific vulnerabilities” that girls of this age have to live with, who “suffer a four-fold greater risk than a 20 year old woman in childbirth and lack of priority in policies dedicated to them.”