SRSG joins launch of Cambodia Action Plan to prevent and respond to violence against children

11/12/2017

In her second visit to Cambodia, SRSG Santos Pais participated in the launch of the first ever Action Plan aiming at the protection of children from all forms of violence. The Action Plan was informed by a comprehensive data survey launched in 2014, the first conducted in the region, and is the fruit of cross-sectoral cooperation involving all departments of government, civil society organizations, religious leaders, as well as children themselves, and with the strong support of UNICEF.

“Protecting children from violence is essential if we are to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Agenda of a world free from fear and violence for all children. The implementation of the Action Plan provides a pathway for Cambodia to achieve this global goal, as well as the ASEAN commitment to end violence against children in the region. It is now critical to move with a deep sense of urgency and ensure that the Action Plan produces tangible results that strengthen the protection of children and makes their right to a violence free childhood a reality” said Santos Pais in her keynote address at the launch.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia formally hands over the Action Plan from the Minister of Women’s Affairs to the Minister of Social Affairs (Credit: UNICEF Cambodia/2017/Seng).

The Action Plan sets the roles and responsibilities, as well as the activities to be carried out by various governmental agencies and non-governmental partners in five key areas: health, social welfare, education and justice at national, provincial, district and community levels. During her visit, the SRSG also met with critical stakeholders who helped to formulate the Action Plan and will be pursuing its implementation.

“The launch of this Action Plan raises high expectations that it will make a real difference in the lives of children. It is now urgent to integrate the Plan into the overall development policy agenda in Cambodia, to use it as a reference for all departments and local authorities, and for the allocation of the necessary resources that will translate it into the effective protection of children from neglect, abuse and exploitation. With a steady process of monitoring and evaluation Cambodia can maintain momentum and assess progress along the way” she added.

Adolescents and young people played an important role in developing and finalizing the Action Plan through active participation in discussions and policy dialogue across the country. Their views and experiences will remain a critical source of inspiration for the implementation process and a reminder of the urgency to prevent all forms of violence against children.

Civil society organizations were also actively involved and will continue to play an indispensable role in supporting the strengthening of the child protection system in Cambodia. Indeed, NGOs help to widen public awareness, support community work, extend services for children and consolidate violence prevention efforts.

(From left to right) Minister of Social Affairs; Minister of Women’s Affairs; Deputy Prime Minister; Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children; and UNICEF Representative to Cambodia (Credit: UNICEF Cambodia/2017/Seng).

The survey launched in 2014 found that children in Cambodia experience and witness violence in their public and private spheres, at home, at school, in their communities and online. This violence was most frequently perpetrated by people children know and trust. The study found that one in every two children in Cambodia report having experienced physical violence. One in 20 people reported that they had experienced sexual violence before reaching the age of 18. Child marriage, child trafficking and child online sexual abuse are also risks that have detrimental effects on children. 

There is limited awareness among families and communities of the harms of various forms of violence against children, including the use of violent discipline at home and in schools. However, violence against children is not inevitable and it can be effectively prevented. The Action Plan is designed to support efforts to develop and implement effective child-friendly strategies to prevent violence and to improve services for both boys and girls who experience violence.

Critical measures have already been adopted to advance progress in this area. These include a positive parenting strategic plan, a positive discipline teacher training module, a handbook for training health professionals, an action plan to reduce by 30 per cent the number of children in residential care, and a new Juvenile Justice law that promotes diversion and the prevention of the deprivation of liberty of children.

“Cambodia has gathered the evidence and collectively shaped an Action Plan to guide action between now and 2021. It is urgent to move towards tangible implementation, supported by a costing plan, and including a credible and participatory process of monitoring and evaluation” the SRSG stressed in her closing remarks.

 

Link to Cambodia’s Action Plan: https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/results_for_children_27251.html

direct link to PDF file: https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/Full_VAC_Action_Plan_En_Final_AP.pdf