UN-backed meeting seeks to curb violence against children in Indian Ocean area
In an effort to curb violence against children, experts from five Indian Ocean islands have gathered in Madagascar for a three-day United Nations-backed sub-regional meeting to draw up a plan of action.
“We are here to make a difference in the lives of children.” Bashige Bashizi of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told delegates from Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles and Reunion.
“UNICEF is delighted to have gathered together so many distinguished personalities from the region and we are confident that our discussions during the next three days will cover ground in an area that merits our attention,” he added.
Recommendations from the meeting will feed into the global study on violence against children mandated by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001 for completion next year. In addition to exploring the forms, causes and impact of violence affecting children and young people, the study will also review legal and institutional responses in the battle against violence.
Although sparsely documented, violence in the family exists throughout the Indian Ocean region. A study in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, in 1998 found that one in five children was the victim of domestic violence.
The meeting is one of the first of a series of joint initiatives launched by UNICEF, the University of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean Observatory for Child Rights. Delegates include national authorities, judges, doctors, social workers and representatives of civil society involved in the fight against violence.