By Michael Klaus
JAKARTA, 20 November 2013 – On World Children’s Day, Indonesia joined the global initiative #ENDviolence against Children.
“Let’s be clear: The launch of the campaign today is only the beginning of a long process. We have been able to form a strong alliance to raise awareness about the impact of violence on children and to strengthen prevention and response systems. Over the coming months, we will work hard to get many more partners on board,” said UNICEF Indonesia Deputy Representative Marc Lucet during the event that was organized together with the Ministries of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Social Affairs, and Communication and Information as well as the Commission on Child Protection.
So far, Indonesia – a nation of almost 240 million people with a third of them being younger than 18 years - has no national data on violence against children. The Government with support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF is undertaking a national survey on the prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual violence against boys and girls in 25 of the 33 provinces. Results and recommendations will be published next year.
Existing sub-national data provides a grim picture. In the 2011 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), conducted in three districts in Papua province, for instance, two thirds of children under the age of 15 said they have been physically punished. More than a quarter of the respondents even said the corporal punishment was severe.
During the launch the Chair of the National Children’s Forum, I Gede Respa Pranayogas, presented examples of such violent acts including the case of a child that was thrown out of a running car by his mother. He highlighted the need to create a protective environment for children in the family, the community and at school where children feel safe and can speak up against violence without any fear of reprisal.
|I Gede Respa Pranayogas, Chairperson of the National Children’s Forum and his brother I Gede Ressa Agung presenting cases of violence against children in Indonesia. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2013/Klavert.|
“We all have a responsibility to make the invisible visible,” said Lucet. “This includes the Government which needs to strengthen legislation to effectively prohibit all forms of violence against children.”
Indonesia adopted a number of laws addressing violence against children, including the 2002 Law on Child Protection, but enforcement of such legislation remains a challenge. And while stipulating that children need to be protected from violence, existing laws do not explicitly prohibit physical punishment in schools and other public institutions. In its latest state report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, however, the Government announced plans to develop “national and regional regulations that prohibit all forms of physical and psychological punishment of children at home and in schools.”
The government also invested in support services for victims such as the national child helpline TeSA 129. During the launch of the campaign, the Director of Child Social Welfare at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Edi Suharto, called the number 129 and spoke to the operator, one of social workers who are on call 15 hours every day about the kind of issues that are usually reported by children through this service. The audience learned that the callers in most cases actually are dealing with problems related to violence, including bullying at school, sexual violence as well as severe punishment at home. The vast majority of those who call are girls. TeSA 129 is a member of Child Helpline International, a global network of 173 helplines in 141 countries that celebrated its 10th anniversary on World Children’s Day.
|Street children performers from the NGO Sanggar Rotan mixed traditional instruments such as kendang and gamelan with makeshift percussions made of used water containers to create a rhythmic harmony. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2013/Klavert.|
“Teachers are role models for children,” said Lucet. “If a teacher hits a student, the message to other children is: This is ok. This is an acceptable way of solving problems. But violence begets violence. That’s why we launch this campaign today. Ending violence is everyone’s business.”
As part of the campaign UNICEF Indonesia National Ambassador Ferry Salim recorded the global campaign PSA in Bahasa Indonesia. Further to this, UNICEF and its partner Ministries will run a social media campaign to ask the country’s very active Twitter and Facebook community what they think should be done to prevent violence against children.