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Prevention of Violence Against Children and ARABCAN Conference

Prevention of Violence Against Children and ARABCAN Conference

Prevention of Violence Against Children and ARABCAN Conference

Hayat Sende Association attended the 5th ARABCAN (Arab Regional Conference on Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) 2017 Conference held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates between 19-22 November 2017, which was supported by Family for Every Child Network. On behalf of Hayat Sende, I made the presentation on “Dialogue to Enable Care Reform in Arab and Islamic Countries” with Dr. Abla El Badry from Hope Village Society, Egypt on 22nd November, under the topic of Prevention Strategy. Moderation is held by Dr. Moha Al Muneef and our presentation took 15 minutes. During the presentation, Dr. El Badry and I shared the objectives and activities of the project on promoting and supporting Alternative Care in Islamic Context under the Family for Every Child Network.

The conference is organized with the hosting of Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) and International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). The theme of the conference is decided as Safe Childhood: From Legislation to Implementation. Under the main theme of it, five sub-themes are discussed with many presentations and speeches given by various civil society professional, practitioners, policy-makers and decision-makers.

Sub-themes of the conference are

  • Child Protection Legislation and Procedures,

  • Best Practices for Child Protection in Arab Region,

  • Training and Capacity Building in the Workforce,

  • Intervention in Child Maltreatment,

  • Data Collection and Research in the Field of Child Maltreatment.

Hayat Sende joined many informative sessions and here’re some highlighted points from our notes:

  • Susan Bissell from UNICEF, made a keynote speech on the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. She emphasizes that the aim is not reducing but ending the violence. Ms. Bissell underlines how critical is the situation by a statistic that every five minutes a child dies a violent death. Also she mentions that one of every five boys from residential care suffers from physical violence.

  • Dr. Maha Al Muneef made a keynote speech regarding Child Maltreatment: Where Are We, and Where Are We Are Going? Mr. Al Muneef starts his speech with the information that all Arab countries ratified the United Nations Convention on the Right of Child (UNCRC). She also mentions some common challenges that the whole Arab region suffers. Those can be listed as following:

    • armed conflicts

    • tradition, bad/mal-practices (forced marriages, female genital mutilation)

    • poverty and economical gap

    • human trafficking

    • size of abuse and violence

  • Al Muneef states that one of four people faces violence in their childhood. She also underlines the correlation between violence and change in the functions of the brain and its impact on DNA. While she talks about impacts of violence on brain development, it is emphasized that “prevention is better than cure”.

  • During the session of Violence-Free Parenting of Jumanah Zabaneh from Save the Children, she takes attention to the fact that violence at home is most of the time the first violence that children face in their life. She mentions the linkage between violence against women and violence against children. Their approach is gender sensitive as well because boys and girls are abused or are exposed to violence differently. REAL Fathers and Children and Youth Resilience programs are two examples that Save the Children apply within the Parenting Programme.

  • On human trafficking, Dr. Ahmad Youssef Al Mansuri mentions that 185 countries have laws against human trafficking and victims are coming from 137 countries so no country is safe from human trafficking. Those countries can be home, transit or destination. One of the big challenge on the ground is that decision-makers draw their policies based on “numbers”. On the other hand, it is seen that victims of trafficking are most of the time afraid to apply to authorities when they are exposed to any kind of abuse or right violations since those human trafficking victims are deported and sent to their home country as a solution. What they experience is a result of the lack of human rights perspective on the issue.

  • The last day of the conference starts with Jenny Gray’s speech on “Working with Governments to Set Up Effective Child Protection Systems”. During her speech, she shares summary of findings from World Perspective Survey including;

    • Low-income countries face huge challenges, comprising children’s welbeing and protection

    • Middle- and high-income countries also need to invest much more

    • Relatively minor differences regarding laws and policies, but low-income countries had less developed systems (World Perspectives on Child Abuse 2016)

  • As a cost of child maltreatment, estimated that the annual costs of physical, sexual and psychological violence against children(measured indirectly as losses in future productivity) are anywhere between 2 percent and 5 percent of global GDP. Using sensitivity analysis, in the highest scenario, they can go up to 8 percent, or about 7 trillion US$. (Muggah and Alvarado, 2016) As the economy of early intervention, just as violence costs, so prevention pays. According to the European Union (EU), every euro invested in preventing violence, produces a social return of 87 Euros. In a time of austerity, investing in violence prevention is a question of good economics. (Marta Santos Pals, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, 2013)

  • Jenny Gray also emphasizes the vitality of inter-agency/multi disciplinary working in child protection. She states that failures in the child protection system often related to poor collaborative working. She also focuses on key challenges for a system working to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect as following;

    • Recognising  that it is a system

    • Having collaborative working between organisations and professionals recognized -at all levels- as being cost effective and supporting good outcomes for children

    • Supporting agencies and staff to work together and recognise its value even in a difficult fiscal climate

    • Ensuring that the services provided are the most effective for the nature of problems being addressed

    • Moving beyond parameters of success defined by sector to those defined by improved outcomes for the child and the protection of their rights

For the region, the ARABCAN Conference is a very good opportunity to share each country's’ achievements and experiences in the field of protection against violence. The program of the conference is designed to be a multi-track and to provide an environment to gather different actors from different disciplines. The approach is also aimed to be in an interdisciplinary manner with an emphasis on prevention strategies, legislations and capacity building. It is very significant that Hayat Sende always makes voice of children and young people in state care heard in such international conferences and gatherings. Nothing about us without us, is for us!


Sultana ERBAŞ

Sultana Erbaş, working as a Networks and Platforms Unit Coordinator in Hayat Sende which is bringing innovative solutions to the lives of children and youngsters in state care. Erbaş who graduated from International Relations department of Middle East Technical University (METU) is an MSc student in METU, Ankara. She has been interested on research topics such as child protection systems of different cultures and countries, and involved into national and international works related to different and culture-sensitive care systems.

Hayat Sende Youth Academy Association

Hayat Sende Association was founded by a group of idealist care leavers in 2007, in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. Academy’s target group is children and youngsters under legal protection and care leavers. Academy’s main strategies are to increase human resources quality of children and youngsters under legal protection to integrate them into life with equal and strong footing, to combat negative discrimination affecting these children and youngsters in the media and public, to defend their rights via lobbying and advocacy efforts. There are 19.831 children and youngsters who live in the child care system in Turkey. 14.189 children live in institutional care. 5.642 of children live in the foster care model


Author Hayat Sende

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