Colombo, 14 March 2016 – High-level representatives from eight countries in South Asia are meeting in Sri Lanka from 14 to 15 March to renew and strengthen their commitment to end violence against children in the region. In light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in September 2015, the meeting will be the first step towards building a common understanding and regional strategy to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets related to violence against children. In an unprecedented move, the new global development agenda prioritises the prevention of violence against children and recognizes that sustainable development cannot be achieved unless all children live free from fear and violence, leaving no one behind. The participants will review these goals and targets through South Asian lens and pave the way for realization of the vision for an end to violence against children at regional and national levels.
Violence against children is widespread, pervasive and remains a harsh reality for millions of children across the globe. Violent discipline at home and schools is a concern and more so at it is seen as an acceptable behavior by both men and women. Sexual violence is a widespread human rights violation, which affects girls and boys alike. In South Asia, almost one in five girls are married before the age of 15; 12 percent of children between 5 and 14 years of age are child labourers and 28 percent of children under 5 have not had their birth registered. All these threaten children’s survival, development, protection and their ability to reach their full potential.
Violence against children is a violation of human rights. It also has “economic costs” for society. Recent findings in neuroscience demonstrates that toxic stress generated by exposure to violence can damage children’s cognitive and emotional development through disruption of brain development and damage health, learning abilities and positive behaviors which create short and long term cost for the individual, families and society. Furthermore, the perpetuation of cycles of violence can be lifelong, passing from one generation to the next. The cost and economic impact to a country can be staggering, further emphasizing the need to prevent violence from happening.
“We need not to be discouraged by the magnitude of the problem but rather to focus on the solutions that have already proven to bring effective results for children” – Susan Bissell, Director, The Global Partnership to End Violence against Children “2016 marks the start of the process of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which has a distinct target to eliminate all forms of violence against children. This is a historic achievement! It will give further impetus to the wide social support for children’s protection from violence in South Asia that has been mobilized over the last 10 years. It is high time to end violence against children: we must transform this momentum into an inclusive and unstoppable movement!” – Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children.
“The event will be hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka.”
The roundtable meeting is being organised by the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC) Regional Secretariat in collaboration with the South Asia Coordinating Group on Violence against Children (SACG) under the leadership of ECPAT International and UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, will participate in this event and deliver the keynote speech. Dr. Susan Bissell of the new Global Partnership to End Violence against Children will be one of the presenters.