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Violence Prevention and Response

Introduction

 
end violence

Young people in India are ready to take action and to challenge the widespread violence against girls and women and the patriarchal values and norms that perpetuate inequality between girls and boys, women and men. Let’s build on this powerful energy! #ENDViolence

The UN Convention on the Right of the Child urges nations to take all possible measures to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation. Addressing violence against children is a key focus of UNICEF’s Child Protection programme in India and here, interventions are focused around prevention of violence and appropriate responses to cases of violence.

UNICEF works closely with the Indian government to strengthen systems that can respond to violence. They do by building the capacities of local governments, the police, child protection agencies and other stakeholders to ensure these groups can respond effectively to children’s unique needs in situations of violence.

The government’s recently launched Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) has presented an important opportunity to set up Child Protection systems at state, district and village levels. At the local level, this will take place through community child protection committees, networks of leaders, frontline workers and community members.

It will be these groups’ role to raise awareness about the problem of violence and provide liaison between the community and Child Protection structures when incidents of violence are reported. As part of strengthening response to violence, UNICEF is also working with the medical sector to support the management of sexual abuse in a child-sensitive way.

In terms of prevention, UNICEF has conducted two campaigns within the #End Violence initiative. The campaign mobilizes several major stakeholders to foster an allied front against violence, including by engaging the education sector.

At the community level, UNICEF and its partners work directly with 250,000 adolescent girls in 42 districts across 10 states, with a focus on empowerment of girls to acknowledge and address violence, child marriage, child labour, trafficking and sexual exploitation.


Big Picture

Shocking data on violence against children, especially girls, shows a fraction of the real picture

  • In 2012, 9500 children and adolescents were killed in India, representing 10 per cent of all children globally and making India the third largest contributor to child homicide after Nigeria and Brazil (WHO 2014, Global Health Estimates).
  • In India, one in three (34 per cent) of adolescent girls (aged 15-19) married or in union have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence by their husband or partner. Among these, more than one in 10 (13 per cent) have experienced sexual violence by their partner.
  • Almost half of girls (45 per cent) and boys (48 per cent) justify wife beating.
  • Twelve million adolescent girls – that is almost one in five – have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • In these cases, the most common perpetrator of physical violence for married girls is the husband or partner (33 per cent). For non-married girls the mother or stepmother is the most common abuser (41 per cent), followed by the father or stepfather (18 per cent) and teacher (11 per cent).
  • Of girls aged 15-19 years, 2.6 million, or 4.5 per cent, married or unmarried, have experienced forced sexual intercourse or another form of forced sexual act. The majority of girls who experienced forced sexual intercourse – about two-thirds –suffered sexual violence in the ages 15 to 19, although girls did experience sexual violence throughout childhood.
  • The most common perpetrator of sexual violence is the husband or partner (77 per cent of girls). Only 3 per cent of girls reported sexual violence by a stranger.

A note about child violence data:

Availability of data on violence against children has improved significantly in the past decade, yet there are still gaps.

Some reasons for limited statistical information include:
a) Acceptance of violence and stigma associated with disclosing violence
b) inappropriateness of methods for data collection with children, especially for very young children
c) relevant questions related to violence against children are not always included in national surveys
d) limited reporting due to poor access to child protection and justice services.

TIME TO TAKE ACTION! What more can we all do?
 
There is a need for urgent action by a range of groups against violence on different fronts to address:
 
Services for survivors: free health, psychological, safe shelter and legal assistance for survivors.
Strengthening legislation – in particular against marital rape and corporal punishment in all settings.
Help lines for reporting and seeking assistance.
Safety for women and girls: in the community, on transport, at school and in the workplace.
Promoting behavioural change in all settings – schools, families and society as a whole, through campaigns, capacity building, engagement of media and social media.
Ensuring access to justice and law enforcement through appropriate, friendly procedures, special courts and speedy trials and addressing widespread impunity for violence against children.
Implementing a package of comprehensive services and referrals for survivors as well as building the capacity of relevant officers and staff across the country.

UNICEF In Action

Preventing and responding to sexual violence requires strong collaboration across sectors and departments. At both central and state level, it is key to work cross-sectorally within UNICEF, across UN agencies and amongst civil society and government.

Some child and adolescent violence interventions by UNICEF include:

POCSO Act: The new national Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act has offered UNICEF’s state offices an opportunity to standardize their response to sexual violence and the provisions of the act into new efforts by multiple stakeholders.

These include the police, judiciary, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), who through multi-sectoral consultations, can now build holistic road maps and build the capacity of stakeholders and workers. This work will require continued support and innovations from state offices.

Police gender sensitization: In order to sensitize the police on issues of gender and make them more responsive to the needs of women and children, UNICEF works closely with police departments across all states.

The “Gender Sensitization and People Friendly Police” project in the state of Karnataka is an intensive training programme for police personnel. Through this programme, 12,000 – or nearly 12 per cent – of that state’s police have already been trained on gender-sensitive policing.

The effectiveness of the programme has resulted in the scheme being replicated in the states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. UNICEF also works extensively with the police to strengthen reporting systems related to trafficking of children.

Indian Medical Association: UNICEF has also worked hard to build a partnership with the Indian Medical Association on the role of the medical sector in the prevention of, and responses to, sexual violence.

The affiliation was initiated with a large symposium, a publication for doctors and the mobilization of a group of experts in the field. The symposium is being followed by a year-long series of training and awareness-raising events across the country to reach a large numbers of health professionals and sensitize them to the needs of victims of sexual violence.

Collaboration between UNICEF’s Health and Child Protection experts will be instrumental in the campaign and UNICEF is encouraging many partners to come on board.

SAIEVAC: To develop and strengthen National Child Protection Systems in the region, UNICEF works closely with the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC), an inter-governmental initiative in the region.

At present, UNICEF is actively involved in setting up the proposed National Action and Coordination Group (NACG). The NACG is expected to enhance coordination and networking among the civil society and the government, to further the agenda of Violence Against Children, set forth by the UN Study on Violence Against Children (2006).

Schools: Several UNICEF state offices have started working on the prevention of child sexual abuse in schools. UNICEF’s Child Protection section is also collaborating with the Education section on other pilot programmes which can be replicated across states.

Toolkit: The development of a toolkit on sexual and gender-based violence for work with adolescents and capacity-building of NGO partners aims to create dialogue and capacity on the ground to address the issue. At the same time, advocacy and technical capacity is taking place with the Indian government to build one-stop crisis centres where survivors can access a wide range of services.

#End Violence campaign

UNICEF India’s flagship initiative to protect children from physical harm is #End Violence against Children. The first phase of the campaign was conducted in 2013 and the second phase was launched in October 2014. Read More