Indonesia and Sweden Work Together to Fight a Global Epidemic: Violence against Children

Posted Under Child Protection

On May 23rd 2017, UNICEF, PUSKAPA, and the Swedish Embassy in Jakarta collaborated in facilitating a round table discussion between Queen Silvia of Sweden with Indonesian youths, leaders, policy makers, as well as child wellbeing researchers and practitioners, to situating childhood violence in the development priorities.

UNICEF finds that violence against children is a global epidemic affecting more than a billion children worldwide and is estimated to cost between 2-3% of annual GDP to governments in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region. As ‘Pathfinder Countries’ in the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, the two countries’ commitment had never been greater.

Prior to the round table, Queen Silvia, who believes in placing children and adolescents at the heart of nation’s growth, engaged Indonesian youths in an interactive discussion to identify key issues surrounding violence in childhood. Bringing what she heard from the dialogue, Queen Silvia encouraged a continuous dialogue between Indonesia and Sweden on challenges to tackle childhood violence and durable solutions to keep all children safe.

This call was welcomed by the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Yohanna Yambise, who in this occasion gave an overview of Indonesia’s programs and policies to tackle violence against children. The discussion then continued around three major themes: violence in school, child marriage, and sexual violence.

After an hour of lively discussion around the table, Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of National Development Planning, Subandi Sardjoko, offered his conclusion stating, “Despite having policies developed to address some of child wellbeing challenges, these policies are not always implemented into effective programs and practice on the ground.”

Mr. Sardjoko then proposed key priorities to which expertise and knowledge between the countries can be exchanged: first on generating stronger evidence needed to inform policy and programmatic decisions on child protection, second to work with the parliament, the court, youth networks, and civil society, to increase the legal age for marriage for girls in Indonesia, and to enforcing the 12 years free and compulsory education for all girls and boys, and third to make institutions that interact with children violence-free, including schools.

On the note of keeping schools violence-free, Mr. Hamid Muhammad, Director General for Primary and Secondary Education Ministry of Education and Culture emphasized that his Ministry is behind banning corporal punishment in schools a hundred percent, a statement that was applauded by the room.

Everyone who attended the discussion agreed that the problem is real, the challenges are great, but the message was very clear: eliminating violence is at the heart of sustainable development.