VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN ‘EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH’ IN TIMOR-LESTE
A comprehensive new report details the shocking levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence, as well as neglect faced by children living in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.
The report, titled Unseen, Unsafe: Underinvestment in Ending Violence Against Children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, released in July 2019, shows that more than 70% or 4 million children across eight countries experience violent discipline at home.
In Timor-Leste, a staggering 87.4% children – or more than 612,000 children – experiences physical or emotional violence at home. The rate is “exceptionally high” and is greater than in neighbouring countries such as Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations.
Children who face violence and abuse often suffer from serious physical injuries, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, mental trauma, and even death.
Violence can lead to stunted brain development, which affects children’s concentration, language development and ability to read and write.
- 30% of adolescent girls (aged 15-19) in Timor-Leste have experienced physical violence;
- In the year preceding a study conducted in 2016, an estimated 75% of boys and 67% of girls in Timor-Leste had experienced physical punishment such as being kicked, slapped or pulled by a teacher;
- Neglect remains an issue in Timor-Leste, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities, with one study showing that 72% of people with a disability having never attended school.
The four organisations are calling for more support to end violence against children, as per Target 16.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which was reviewed at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum in New York earlier in July 2019.
ChildFund Timor-Leste Country Director Erine Dijkstra says violence has a profound impact on children, and all children should feel safe and protected in their homes and schools.
“Interventions targeted at increasing children’s ability to seek support when they are unsafe, and positive parenting training are reducing violence and abuse against children.
“The report reveals inadequate levels of funding and policy measures to address the child protection crisis and we therefore call upon government and development partners to allocate more funding specifically addressing violence against children.”
World Vision Timor-Leste Country Program Director, Fabiano Valente Franz, called for a united approach to ending violence against children in Timor-Leste.
“It’s time to put child protection at the heart of everything we do. We know what works to reduce violence, for example programmes to change harmful norms in communities, school education focusing on respectful relationships, establishment of safe houses and creation of a strong child protection workforce.
“We can end violence but it will take targeted investment to do so.”
Plan International Timor-Leste Country Director, Dillyana Ximenes, says: “Children, especially girls, will learn, lead, decide and thrive more in realisations of their rights when free from violence.
“Plan International will continue working together with communities, parents and local government, with special focus on men and boys engagement, to ensure children, especially girls, are safe and free from any form of violence.”
* Read full report here click (English)