Religious institutions urged to tackle violence against children

In one of Indonesia's poorest provinces, Church marks Children's Day with campaign against violence
The Catholic Church in the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara is calling on religious institutions in the country to use their influence to end violence against children.

As Indonesia prepares to mark National Children’s Day July 23, the Church in East Nusa Tenggara has issued a “10-point declaration” urging action.

The first part of the declaration urges “all religious institutions to voice their prophetic words in order to end the chain of violence against children”.

Children younger than 17 in the region are prone to abuse including human trafficking and sexual violence, according to Fr Apolinarius Deddy Ladjar, chairman of the Archdiocese of Kupang’s Commission for Missionary Works and the Pontifical Mission Aid Societies.

“[East Nusa Tenggara] has a huge number of cases of human trafficking. Many children in the region were sold and then treated as sex workers. It’s alarming. We want to end this kind of situation,” he said in an interview.

To mark National Children's Day, the Church along with nongovernmental organizations and the local Protestant Church gathered 5,000 Catholic and Protestant children in Kupang, the provincial capital, on July 22. They urged authorities to address the problem of violence against children.

Child advocacy groups say violence against children is particularly prevalent in places like East Nusa Tenggara, which is one of Indonesia's most impoverished areas.

Between 2010 and 2014, there were at least 21.6 million cases of violence against children, according to Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection.

He told that the number of cases of sexual violence against children in the province is among the highest in the country.

“From 34 provinces in Indonesia, [East Nusa Tenggara] ranked fifth in sexual violence,” he said.

“[We] need commitment from children and adults as well as the Church to help end violence against children.”

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