UN backs protection of women, children in Laos

UN backs protection of women, children in Laos

Senior Lao officials and United Nations representatives met in Vientiane yesterday to discuss the development of the Law on Violence against Women and Children.

According to the Unicef office in Vientiane, Ms Santos Pais took part in a roundtable discussion on the new law with members of the National Assembly, Ministry of Justice, National Commission for Mothers and Children and other related government parties.National Assembly President Ms Pany Yathotou told the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais, during her visit to the Assembly “The development of this new law will create better understanding about the issue of violence against women and children.”

Ms Santos Pais is a high-level global advocate on the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children. She is a legal expert with over 30 years' experience on children's rights issues, and engagement in United Nations and inter-governmental processes.

“In recent years, Laos has made tremendous strides in tackling violence against children,” Ms Santos Pais said.

“But, like all over the world, much more can and should be done. The fact so many government parties are sitting together today is a signal that Laos is committed to ending violence against children. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child this year, we are reminded that all partners have a role in protecting the rights of children everywhere.”

Representative to Unicef Lao PDR Ms Hongwei Gao said “We really appreciate the government's commitment and actions for adopting and implementing the new law, which for the first time focuses on all forms of violence against women and children in all settings. We look forward to working with the Lao government and its partners to ensure a strong implementation of this law.”

Ms Gao also highlighted the need for all sectors to come together to ensure implementation is a success.

“We all have the opportunity to end the cycle of violence against children, and this involves action at every level: governments, the private sector, civil society organisations, communities and individuals all have a role to play in putting an end to violence and empowering children.”

According to Unicef, violence against children is all too often unseen, unheard and underreported. The recent Lao Social Indicator Survey revealed that 76 percent of 2 to 14-year-olds have experienced physical or emotional violence from an adult in their homes.

The Lao government, with Unicef support, is investing in national research on violence against children to understand the scale and nature of the different types of violence that children in Laos face. This research will help to inform the government and partners to improve and enhance strategies to identify, prevent and respond to violence against children.

Despite many achievements thus far, society must continue working together to bring greater attention and broader support to the vital cause of child protection. By raising awareness within families and communities about the negative impact of violence against children and by standing together against violence, greater protection for vulnerable children can be ensured.

Unicef promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child in all aspects of its work. Together with its partners the organisation works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Vientiane Times