Policy dialogue on child abuse held

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A child was beaten with a lash by his stepfather (left), who was later arrested, in Kampot province in August. police

The government and civil society organisations on October 19 held a National Policy Dialogue to find ways to end violence against children (VAC), while commitments to eliminate the issue have been announced to showcase progress in preventing and responding to VAC in recent years.

According to a joint press release, the online talks were hosted by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation and supported by UNICEF, Save the Children and Child Rights Coalition Cambodia.

The event was also attended by members of the steering committee for the implementation of the Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children, representatives from relevant ministries, institutions and sub-national administrations, UN agencies, donors, international and local NGOs, the private sector and youth, according to the press release.

“The participation of children, adolescents and youth in the dialogue ensures that their voices are heard and reflected in the commitments made today. Cambodia has made it clear that preventing VAC is a priority,” the press release said.

The commitments made indicated how VAC will be tackled in the coming years and will be shared at the #EndViolence Leaders Event in mid-December of this year, as part of the End VAC Solution Summit – a global forum working to end all forms of violence against children.

Nim Thot, permanent secretary of state for the social affairs ministry, said the advancement of globalisation and technology in developed and developing countries presents many challenges in ending VAC.

He said VAC has detrimental effects on child development, their social ethics, dignity and future human resource development and cannot be tolerated.

“To promote child protection and their wellbeing, the Cambodian government has implemented a number of laws, policies and national action plans. We call for the continued collaboration and collective action from all relevant ministries, institutions, international and local NGOs, and stakeholders to back the ongoing advancements in child protection,” he said.

Foroogh Foyouzat, UNICEF Representative in Cambodia, said UNICEF acknowledged the government’s efforts in strengthening systems to prevent and respond to VAC. She reaffirmed the organisation’s ongoing determination to further strengthen those systems.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the urgent need to accelerate action to prevent and respond to violence against children, both offline and online. UNICEF remains firmly committed to supporting the Royal Government of Cambodia’s steadfast and accelerated efforts in preventing VAC and to fulfill its commitments to end violence against children by 2030,” she added.

In 2013, Cambodia became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to conduct a national survey on VAC. Held with support from the US Centre for Disease Control and UNICEF, the survey’s findings informed the Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children (2017-2021), which set up 13 ministries for joint action on this common goal.

The statement also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to accelerate efforts to end VAC by 2030 by banning all forms of violence against children, strengthening child support, protecting data and monitoring, enabling parents and caregivers to keep children safe, making the internet safe for children, and making schools safe, non-violent, and inclusive.