Thursday, 15 November 2018

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“Violence against children is everyone’s business”

 Agenda 2030 for Children - End Violence Solutions Summit, Stockholm, Sweden

At least 1 out of every 2 of the world's children have experienced violence in their lives, and 18 million girls aged between 15 and 19 have experienced sexual abuse.

Today, the Swedish capital Stockholm has brought together High-Level representatives of UN bodies, government ministers from 75 countries, youth delegates, civil society, the academic world as well as the private sector in Stockholm for the first international, high-level conference on ending violence against children, hosted by the Swedish Government. Together they will share best practices, experience and new solutions in work to end violence against children.

DSG Amina Mohamed and HM Queen Silvia at End Violence Summit, Stockholm, Sweden | ©Photo Yury Fedotov UNODC Twitter

“Violence against children is everyone’s business”, according to United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed during her opening statement of the Summit. “Law enforcement, health, justice, social welfare and the private sector all need to work together to prevent and respond to violence.”

The Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, drew on his own personal experience in his statement. “Over the years, we have failed many times, leaving children in abusive families or bad foster homes. But we have also succeeded in giving many children much better and brighter futures than they ever thought possible”, said Minister Löfven. “I know, because I was one of those children. When my mother couldn't take care of me, society stepped in, and I had the opportunity to move to a loving foster family, the opportunity to grow up safe and happy, the opportunity to stand before you here today.”

As part of Agenda 2030, world leaders have pledged to attain 17 goals for sustainable development, one aim being to realise human rights for all – with sub-target 16.2 aiming at preventing and ending violence against and exploitation of girls and boys all over the world.

“There is a clear link between gender equality, violence against women and violence against children”, said Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Åsa Regnér. “Violence against women is a high risk factor for corporal violence against children.”

Sweden was the first country in the world to ban corporal punishment of children in 1979. Domestic violence or abuse is, however, only one piece of a large puzzle. It is estimated that between 250.000 to 300.000 children serve in armed conflicts around the world.

“Children have become the fuel that keeps protracted conflicts alive”, said Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children. “But action plans do produce viable results and change is happening. Our work must include prevention of conflicts. Violence is preventable. It can be done.”

In July 2016, The Global Partnership to End Violence against Children was launched to bring about change. It  is a joint initiative by a number of governments, Unicef, the WHO and others stakeholders for international collaboration, closely linked to the global goals in Agenda 2030 and especially target 16.2.

The conference is live streamed at: end-violence.org/summit. The conference closes on February 15.

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