Violence against Children

The United Nations Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children (SRSG VAC) reported that every year at least 1 billion children—half of the world’s children—experience some form of violence.  This violence often occurs in places where children expect to be safe, such as schools or homes and by individuals closest to childrentheir parents, guardians, teachers, employers, police, and security forces.  In many countries, different forms of violence remain lawful or tolerated and they continue to be a fundamental, cross-cutting global issue.   

DCI actively engages in international and regional efforts to advocate for the effective elimination of violence against childrenunderpinning its work on Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) General Comment No. 13 on the rights of children to freedom from all forms of violence.   Enforcing our overall objective in our Strategic Framework, we worked closely with Maria Santos Pais, a member of the UN Drafting Group of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), during her ten-year mandate as SRSG VAC from 2009 to 2019.  She was succeeded by Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, the founder of DCI-Morocco (Bayti), an important recognition for DCI and our work. 

“All forms of physical or mental violence” does not leave room for any level of legalized violence against children. Frequency, severity of harm and intent to harm are not prerequisites for the definitions of violence […] States parties need to establish national standards for child well-being, health and development as securing these conditions is the ultimate goal of child caregiving and protection.

(art. 19.1 UNCRC, GC 13)

In addition, DCI’s national sections organise regular outdoor monitoring to identify children in vulnerable situations which enables DCI to follow widespread abuses, such as child trafficking and gender-based violence.  Their response, adapted to children’s needs, usually includes individual psychosocial counselling and education programmes.  Part of our work includes advocating for the implementation in our country sections of the Second Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography of the UNCRC. 

While some progress in the adoption of legal instruments has been achieved, violence against children remains an endemic daily reality for millions of children.  In this regard, it will remain one of DCI’s thematic priorities at all levels of implementation.  (See: International NGO Council on Violence Against Children, 10 years on: Global Progress and Delay in Ending Violence Against Children – Rhetoric and the Reality, November 2016) 

To achieve concrete results in eliminating violence against children, DCI focuses on evidence-based advocacy through oral and written statements, capacity-building of civil society actors and reports to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and campaigns and calls-to-action directed at governments.  In order to challenge social norms and empower children especially girls, DCI also takes a gender-based perspective in the implementation of innovative programmes like the Girls Advocacy Alliance (See Gender Equality). 

 

Having led the campaign for bridging the gap in data collection to upholding the human rights of all children deprived of liberty, DCI co-convened the NGO panel during the course of the development of a UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, which officially started in 2017 and was led by the Independent Expert,Manfred Nowak, professor of international law and human rights and former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.  The Study sheds light on the scale and conditions of children deprived of liberty, identifies good practices, and makes recommendations for effective measures to prevent human rights violations against children in detention and reduce the number of children deprived of liberty.  Read more here 

DCI’s joint programme, Girls Advocacy Alliance, advocated for the Human Rights Council to highlight the importance of comprehensive sexuality education in its resolution on violence against women as a key strategy to address its root causes and to prevent the dangerous practice each year suffered by millions of girls and young womenFemale genital mutilation (FGM) is a harmful practice and a gross violation of human rights.  Harmful social norms and gender stereotypes regarding young women’s sexuality are at the heart of FGM.  Social pressures to control girls and young women’s bodies, perpetuate FGM on a global level. 

 

While UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions address FGM, they fail to recognise it as a violation of girls’ and young women’s human rights and the link that exists between child marriage.  As such, the Alliance urged the official recognition by UNHRC of the link between FGM and child marriage, and a clear and explicit stance against the medicalisation of FGM that falls in line with their “zero tolerance” position 

DCI was among the groups of nongovernmental organisations which directly supported the preparation of the UN Study on Violence against Children, which was finally adopted by the UN General Assembly in October 2006.  The Study was carried out by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro , the Independent Expert appointed to conduct the UN Study on Violence against Children, and led to a General Assembly resolution A/RES/62/141 which established the post of UNSRSG VAC.  With 12 over-arching recommendations, the Study emphasises the need for high-level leadership and cooperation paired with comprehensive follow-up action in order to implement and assess the progress of the Study’s recommendations.  

Moreover, DCI-IS is an active member of the Child Rights Connect’s working group on Children and Violence.  This group aims to join various nongovernmental organisations with the UN human rights mechanism and bodies in Geneva to advocate for the elimination of violence against children and to follow-up on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Target 16 of the SDGs aims to end violence by “promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.  Other targets address specific forms of violence against children like child marriage and female genital mutilation (target 5.3) and the eradication of child labour, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers (target 8.7). Eradicating violence against children is necessary for the full achievement of all the goals. DCI-IS is also a member of the Global Partnership to End Violence

DCI-Sierra Leone: Mellicentia (17), from Sierra Leone, is determined to improve the future of girls and young women in her country.  “One day, she said she wanted to become a human rights lawyer,” says Mellicentia’s mother, laughing.

Her daughter adds: “Yes, to eventually become the UN Secretary-General. ”

Mellicentia is very active in her community: a poor neighbourhood in Freetown. There, she addresses, for example, the parents of girls who do not go to school, and teenage mothers who think that education is no longer an option for them.

“We give them motivation and inspiration to move on with their lives and to make progress.”

Her mother proudly listens to what her daughter has to say.

“It is every parent’s dream to see his or her child doing what they do best.  For Mellicentia, that is her lobbying work.  And that is urgently needed, because there is a lot of suffering among girls in this country.  Perhaps this is the start of a major change.”

🇸🇱 DCI – Sierra Leone: Mellicentia (17), from Sierra Leone, is determined to improve the future of girls and young women in her country.  “One day, she said she wanted to become a human rights lawyer,” says Mellicentia’s mother, laughing.

Her daughter adds: “Yes, to eventually become the UN Secretary-General. ”

Mellicentia is very active in her community: a poor neighbourhood in Freetown. There, she addresses, for example, the parents of girls who do not go to school, and teenage mothers who think that education is no longer an option for them.

“We give them motivation and inspiration to move on with their lives and to make progress.”

Her mother proudly listens to what her daughter has to say.

“It is every parent’s dream to see his or her child doing what they do best.  For Mellicentia, that is her lobbying work.  And that is urgently needed, because there is a lot of suffering among girls in this country.  Perhaps this is the start of a major change.”