Violence against children in Timor-Leste is highest in region Featured

Children are working hard to get water for the family Children are working hard to get water for the family Foto Adra

Tempotimor (Dili) - Violence against children in Timor-Leste is ‘exceptionally high.’ A staggering 87.4 percent (612,539 children) of the Timorese children is victim at home of physical and emotional violence, according to the study ‘Unseen, Unsafe’ by Save the Children, ChildFund, Plan International and World Vision. This percentage is higher than in neighbouring countries such as Papua New Guinee and other Pacific nations.

Timorese children are also not safe at school. An estimated 75 % of the boys and 67 % of the girls are being slapped, kicked or pulled by a teacher, an earlier study found. ‘The use of violence as a form of punishment and discipline is socially accepted and considered as a ‘normal’ part of behaviour within many families and communities,’ the report says.

Children who are victim of abuse can suffer serious physical injuries, mental trauma, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and even death. Violence also results in stunted brain development, which means children have problems with concentrating, language development, and learning to write and read.

The report states that the drivers of violence are complex. The factors include: patriarchal societies with high levels of gender inequality; social acceptance of physical punishment against children; low status in general of children; weak institutional and governance systems; and growing poverty and inequality.

The organisations call for governments and development agencies to do more to address violence against children and to allocate more funding. Children should feel safe and protected, said Erine Dijkstra, director of ChildFund Timor-Leste. More should be done for children to be able to seek support when they are unsafe. Also ‘positive parenting’ reduces violence. Fabiano Valente Franz, director World Vision in Timor-Leste, called for a united approach to end violence against children.

Download/view the report here:

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 August 2019 10:55
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