30 May 2012

Saievac Regional meet on Ending Violence Against Children Begins

Leaders Renew Commitment to Eliminate Violence Against Children in All Forms
The South Asia follow up on regional consultation on the UN study on violence against children started in Colombo today. It was inaugurated by Mr. Tissa Karalliyadha, Minister for Child Development and Women’s Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka. Leaders from many SARRC countries are attending the meet. 

In his inaugural speech, the Minister drew attention to the alarming statistics facing the SARRC countries in matters of violence against children, who face abuse, discrimination and violence in their homes, schools, work places and various other forms. The Minister called violence against children a ‘global scourge’ that needs ‘urgent attention’. He noted that economic difficulties and reduced social spending by many governments around the world have placed many restrictions on children and has lead to several forms of violence, and children have rarely any recourse to effective remedy. There is insufficient understanding and knowledge of the impact and incidence of violence against children on their development. Hence there was an urgent need for better coordination before policymakers and practioners, leading to an integrated strategy. He averred that the women and child development ministries/departments in the different countries should act as the nodal body in coordinating, and monitoring and evaluating the work of all agencies working in this field. 

In her welcome address, the Secretary, Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Sumithra Rahubaddhe, said that this is a significant opportunity for the governments of SARRC countries to demonstrate their renewed commitment to ending violence against children in all forms and all settings by putting in place sturdy legislations, and to promote their development, and to provide greater protection to children from all forms of violence. She said that since the Islamabad meet in 2005, significant steps have been taken by the various regional governments. 

During the inaugural addresses of the leaders and representatives from SAARC countries reiterated that this regional consultation presented an opportunity to deliberate and discuss on the steps taken since the 2005 meet and to collectively pool in the wisdom from the countries to derive concrete and measureable targets for the future. Representatives from governments of SARRC countries, experts on child rights and violence against children, professionals, academicians, NGOs from SARRC countries are attending this regional consultation. The aim is to devise policy measures to eliminate violence in all forms against children such as corporal violence, child marriage, child trafficking, child labour, child sexual and physical abuse. Many of these activities are getting a serious nature due to the syndicated and organized nature of these activities, the members stated in their inaugural speeches. The leaders were unanimous in their observation that the social and economic cost of ignoring this phenomenon is significantly too high to be ignored by any government today. 

The consultation is being organized by SAIEVAC, the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children, an apex body of SAARC. SAIEVAC released reports on the status of corporal punishment in SARRC countries. It also launched the campaign against corporal punishment. An exhibition of posters made by children depicting forms of violence was also put up. Representatives from governments of eight SARRC member countries are present for this meet. 

The Indian delegation led by Dr. Vivek Joshi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development is also attending the regional consultation. The technical sessions will begin from tomorrow. 

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