The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call attention to and include protecting children from violence as a distinct and cross-cutting priority. Five goals and nine targets which include addressing violence and abuse, trafficking, sexual and other types of exploitation, harmful practices such as child marriage and the worst forms of child labour along with promotion of safe public spaces, safe and non-violent learning environment and birth registration. This high level roundtable 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. It is the opportunity to analyze and review, through a South Asian lens, the various aspects of violence against children related to the SDGs.
The high-level roundtable on implementation of violence against children related SDGs is co-hosted by South Asia Coordinating Group on Violence against Children (SACG) and the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) Secretariat in collaboration with the Office of the UN Special Representative on Violence against children in Sri Lanka.
Violence against children widespead in Asia
Violence against children is widespread and pervasive and remains a harsh reality for millions of children in South Asia which has long-lasting consequences on their lives. In Afghanistan, 74 percent of girls and boys age 2-14 experience any form of violent discipline. More than 70 percent of adolescent girls aged 15- 19 in Bhutan say wife-beating can be justified under certain circumstances. In Sri Lanka out of 15,000 legal trials pending nation-wide, more than 4,000 or one-third involve some form of violence toward a child. Almost half of girls (45 percent) in the region marry before the age of 18. In Bangladesh, 47 percent of ever-married girls aged 15-19 who ever experienced physical or sexual violence did so through their partners or husbands. In India, 9 percent of girls/women aged 15 to 49 years reported having experienced sexual violence including being forced to have sexual intercourse or perform any other sexual acts against one’s own will and for many women this occurs at young age, with up to 5 percent of 15-19 years old having experienced the same. Sexual violence isn’t limited to girls alone; in the Maldives more than 17 percent of adolescent boys, grades 8 to 10,reported that they were physically forced to have sex. Corporal punishment remains the most common form of violence against children with it being permitted in homes, schools, correctional institutes and alternative care settings in Nepal, for example. Children are perceived as “adults” early on and this, along with other factors, contributes to South Asia having highest global numbers of child labourers including 3.3 million child workers in Pakistan. The recruitment and use of children as child soldiers has taken place in countries which have experienced or are experiencing conflict, and governments– together with partners - have taken steps to eliminate this practice and provide care and services to children who were involved (e.g. Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal). Violence against children with disabilities is also of concern across South Asia as disabled children often face severe discrimination, are much less likely to be in school and are more likely to be victims of sexual, physical and verbal violence. Violence is not inevitable.
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, Ms. Marta Santos Pais, participates in this event and delivers the keynote speech. Dr. Susan Bissell of the new Global Partnership to End Violence against Children is one of the presenters. The event will be hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka.
About South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC)
SAIEVAC, an Apex Body of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), is a regional initiative led by the Governments of SAARC Member States in partnership with children, civil society organizations, and the South Asia Coordinating Group on Action against Violence against Children (SACG). SAIEVAC provides an opportunity for collaboration on children’s issues and particularly violence against children, within the larger framework of SAARC. For more information about SAIEVAC and its work visit: http://www.saievac.org.