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New joint committee to tackle child abuse

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The committee is headed by its minister, Vong Soth, and comprises 22 members – 15 from various ministries and institutions and seven from NGOs. Supplied

New joint committee to tackle child abuse

Ministries and child protection NGOs have jointly established a committee on the Implementation of an Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation spokesman Touch Channy said.

The committee is headed by its minister, Vong Soth, and comprises 22 members – 15 from various ministries and institutions and seven from NGOs, Channy said.

“On Tuesday, we held an inter-ministerial meeting to announce the formation of the committee to implement action plans to contain and respond to violence against children,” he said.

Channy said the committee included representatives from organisations working on children’s issues – including Plan International, Save The Children and ChildFund – and from relevant institutions including the ministries of Education, Youth and Sport; Women’s Affairs; Interior; and Information.

“A plan was made to establish a committee in 2016-2017, but up to now it had only existed on paper and was not implemented."

“Then the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation decided the task was crucial, so we studied and reviewed the plan and have now established a working committee,” he said.

Channy said each ministry was obliged to carry out its respective tasks according to its specialist skills.

“In our country, there is a lot of abuse and violence against children. So the ministry, along with some major organisations, has collaborated to prepare a national plan to solve the problem,” he said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Soth said it was necessary to require the participation of all relevant ministries, institutions and partners to better tackle abuse of and violence and discrimination against children in all forms to meet international standards, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Violence against children is intolerable in any form because it affects children’s development and the future of Cambodia’s social morality, dignity and human resources,” Soth said.

He said the committee consists of three technical working teams.

One team is tasked with raising awareness and containing violence against children, another will provide services and implement relevant laws, while the third will study legal standards and monitor and review the committee’s work and make reports, the minister said.

Plan International child protection specialist Chhim Phanna told The Post on Wednesday that his organisation had played a crucial role in establishing the committee.

“We gathered information, analysed it and made reports on violence against children in Cambodia. We gave our opinions and urged the implementation of the action plan,” he said.

Phanna said that in its efforts to end violence against children Plan International had communicated with national and international communities to seek assistance and exchange information and experiences.

He said Plan International, having worked with children in Cambodia for many years, had observed that violence against them had not declined and there were still brutal cases of rape and child abuse.

“According to MoWA and NIS research conducted in 2013, at least 60 per cent of children have suffered from physical, mental or sexual abuse."

“So, apparently, violence against children does not seem to have declined. It is stable and has increased in some areas. The systems to record data are still lacking, making reporting on the issue difficult,” he said.

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