The South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) is “imperative” to end child violence in the region, says Gender Minister Shidhatha Shareef.
The minister said this at the inauguration of the eight SAIEVAC governing body meeting at the Hulhumalé Youth Center, on Thursday.
Noting SAIEVAC’s importance to end violence against children in the region, Shidhatha said that the current Maldivian government gives high priority to this.
As such, she stressed that the current administration’s recently announced Strategic Action Plan, or SAP, “gives utmost importance for the social protection of vulnerable groups especially children, under the policy of no one left behind whereby it ensures that inclusivity is maintained across sectors.”
“To establish a child protection system that suits well for the Maldives and also to address the specific needs of children in the Maldives, Child Rights’ Protection Bill is in the parliament and I am looking forward to it to be passed soon. With this act, the government seeks to establish a well-structured and coordinated protection system that promotes the wellbeing of children, prevents abuse and ensures that all our children are safe”
~ Shidhatha Shareef
Further noting that there is “a long way to go,” the gender minister assured that the Maldives “is committed to actually walk through the very long road without getting tired.”
Shidhatha also noted SAIEVAC’s commitment to address the emerging issues in the region, including child marriage, sexual abuse and exploitation as well as to address the sexual reproductive health.
“It is alarming that teenage pregnancy has become a global problem, which delays in development of children, increase in school dropouts, less productivity and poor health as well. Along with teenage pregnancy, child marriage affects our children’s physical, mental and psychological wellbeing. The problem is among both boys and girls; however, the girls are disproportionately affected and it reinforces gender norms and stereotypes”
~ Shidhatha Shareef
She added that studies show that “this hinders there potential to achieve higher education, economic development and self-actualization.”
Further highlighting that the younger generation is “not very open to talk about these sensitive topics,” the minster said that this is considered taboo in the school systems as well as the society.
She noted that when such topics are unspoken, “adolescents and young children tend to gather information through informal means which many a times lead to misinformation,” adding that children “end up in more vulnerable situations which can be avoided with appropriate measures.”
The minister said that these issues will be discussed at the SAIEVAC governing body meeting, and reflected in the regional plan.
The South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children or SAIEVAC is a SAARC Apex body, with a vision that all children, girls and boys, throughout South Asia enjoy their right to an environment free from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and discrimination.