KARACHI: As the world marks Universal Children’s Day – the anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child – UNICEF is urging a much stronger light be shone on the millions of children in every country and at every level of society who are victims of violence and abuse that continues to go unnoticed and under-reported.
“Too often, abuse occurs in the shadows: undetected, unreported, and – even worse – too often accepted,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We all have a responsibility to ‘make the invisible, visible’ – from governments enacting and enforcing laws to prohibit violence against children, to private citizens refusing to be silent when they witness or suspect abuse. Violence against children does more than harm individual children, it undermines the fabric of society, affecting productivity, well-being, and prosperity, which no society can afford to ignore,” Lake said.
Universal Children’s Day also marks the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which this year celebrates its 24th anniversary. The UN Convention, adopted in 1989, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children. It specifies that every child, everywhere, has the right to survive, grow and be protected from all forms of violence.
“A signatory to the CRC, Pakistan has come a long way in its efforts to create an enabling environment for the protection of child rights, including protection from all forms of physical and mental violence,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative in Pakistan Miriam de Figueroa. “The Government of Pakistan’s commitment towards realisation of children’s rights is apparent at the highest level of the executive and legislative authorities and our support to the government in this regard is unequivocal.”
UNICEF launched the #END Violence Against Children campaign earlier this year. It urges public acknowledgement of the problem of violence against children and encourages support and engagement with local movements to address a compelling global issue. The campaign would be launched in Pakistan early next year.
The overall goal of the initiative in Pakistan is to have zero-tolerance against the use of corporal punishment in educational and other childcare institutions. The initiative entails a campaign of a national scope to reach out to wide-ranging groups of people, including teachers, child caretakers, public authorities, lawmakers, public administration and other policy and decision makers. It is hoped that the campaign would contribute towards creating an enabling environment for ending violence against children by discouraging culturally legitimate use of physical punishment to discipline children in institutional settings.
There are approaches that work to prevent and respond to violence against children. These include supporting parents, families and others who care for children; strengthening children’s skills to help protect themselves from violence; explicitly working to change attitudes and social norms that tolerate violence and discrimination; and strengthening and enforcing policies and laws that protect children.