Child Protection Unit opened in Batticaloa hospital

[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 August 2004, 12:16 GMT]
The office of the Child Protection Unit (CPU) of the Batticaloa DistrictChild Protection Committee (DCPC) was declared open Sunday , 1 August, at the Teaching Hospital in Batticaloa town by the Government Agent Mr.V.Shanmugam by cutting the ribbon, UNICEF sources in Batticaloa said.

UNICEF supported the establishment of the office, including the purchase of a computer and three-wheeler and other office equipment. The UN children's agency is also supporting the DCPC to build safer, child friendly communities through the implementation of awareness and training programmes on child rights and the prevention of child abuse

Dr. Shantini Ganesan, Pediatrician and co-chairperson of the DCPC, in her keynote address stressed that the Committee's goal for the year is to improve coordination among all sectors to provide better protection and greater awareness on child rights. The DCPC would seek to place the child at the centre of the process, whilst working to bring communities together to care for their children and protect them from abuse, Ms.Ganesan said.

Ms Andrea James, UNICEF Head of Batticaloa office also addressed the gathering. "Too long have we sidelined the needs and opinions of the child in these matters. The child needs to be given first priority. The Child Protection Unit at the hospital will be a safe and friendly location where children and families may report violations and be interviewed in a positive and supportive environment; here, they will be able to ask questions during the legal, medical and recovery processes," Ms James emphasized in her speech.

Batticaloa Children's Hospital
Batticaloa Government Agent Mr.Shanmugam opening the Children Protection Unit in Batticaloa hospital by cutting the ribbon while UNICEF Batticaloa district head Ms Andrea James (with garland) looks on (Photo: UNICEF)



Two young Batticaloa district students, Miss Naslun Sithara, 13 years, and Master Balan Suthakaran, 13 years, spoke on the importance of an environment where children's rights are respected and children are protected from abuse, UNICEF officials said.

Their speeches reflected the research of child rights actors, who cite the breakdown of families, overseas or distant work, alcohol abuse and gender based violence, conflict related separation and residual psycho-social upset as the main issues affecting child protection work in the district of Batticaloa. In addition to this, a combination of male dominance at home and in society, low child rights awareness levels, cultural stigma around abuse, and a lack of trust of authorities has meant that abuse cases tend to remain unidentified, unreported and unresolved, UNICEF sources said.

Through its activities, the DCPC will serve as an active reminder that child protection is everybody's responsibility and encourage both adults and children to create an environment at home, in schools and in the community, where children are protected and given the best chances to develop to their full potential, UNICEF sources further said.

 

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