This November will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. As one of the first countries that ratified the convention, Indonesia has made some progress in addressing violence against children.
For example, the 2002 law on child protection was finally amended last year by the House of Representatives, with some improvements in provisions on child protection.
Despite the legal framework, problems remain with countless numbers of cases going unreported because of fear of social stigma.
The special representative of the secretary-general on violence against children, Marta Santos Pais, recently visited Jakarta to meet with ministers and other government representatives as well as civil society organisations.
As one of the members of the UN Drafting Group of the convention, Santos Pais made some suggestions as to what Indonesia could do to provide better protection for its children.
The Jakarta Post's Hans Nicholas Jong talked to Santos Pais about the issue. The following are excerpts.
Question: What do you think about violence against children in Indonesia?
Answer: We had very good meetings with the members of the government and it was very encouraging to hear about the strong commitment to maintain attention on violence against children, which is now recognised in different pieces of legislation in the new medium-term plan, but also to see the commitment to implement that vision in practical terms.
But we had a very good meeting with young people and some of them had experienced situations of bullying or physical abuse or verbal abuse.
But above all, they are great advocates for other children who are close to them. So they were sharing stories about how difficult it is for the victims who suffer the impact of violence and how difficult it is to understand who is ready to support the victims.
Can they trust people? Can they tell their stories? Will there be anyone giving a hand for them to overcome the trauma that they suffered? This is not unique to Indonesia, but we believe it is one of the most crucial dimensions of the very important work we are all committed to promoting.
Children cannot keep silent when they suffer violence and society needs to show that this is a concern for all of us and any incidental violence may have a negative impact on the life of the child, but may have a devastating cost for society as a whole.
So we would like to continue to listen to the voice of children, not only their stories of suffering, but also their recommendations. And one of them was raising the awareness on prevention of violence, creating commitments by all departments and actors in society.
If we listen to children and gather their recommendations, we will have a better society in Indonesia.