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Regional conference on promoting inter-agency collaboration on preventing child sexual abuse in ASEAN


 On April 19th, in Hanoi, Ministry of Labour – Invalids and Social Affairs in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat and UNICEF held the Regional conference on promoting inter-agency collaboration on preventing child sexual abuse in ASEAN. The Conference was held virtually. Attending the Conference were Deputy Minister of Labour – Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha, representatives of ACWC on the women’s rights and children’s rights, and the focal points in response to social welfare, education, health care, youth, and human right of the member countries in ASEAN, representatives from UNICEF, UNFPA, UNESCO and the relating UN’s agencies, international organizations, representatives from relating ministries, sectors and associations…

The Conference is an activity in the framework of the Project chaired by Vietnam in the working plan of ACWC in the period 2021 – 2025 in the context of child sexual abuse becoming a more and more serious issue. Especially, in recent years, the world has faced the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastically developed digital technology which have led to the increase of the kinds of child sexual abuse on the internet environment. It led to the consequence of serious physical and mental damage to children. In addition to the legal and resource gaps, one of the challenges that ASEAN member countries face in implementing the prevention of child sexual abuse is an inter-agency collaboration mechanism between stakeholders. The inter-agency collaboration in prevention of child sexual abuse, especially in the fields of education, health care and justice sectors has not been implemented synchronously and effectively, leading to the inability to mobilize the resources of agencies, sectors and levels in child sexual abuse prevention and combat.

Addressing the Conference, Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Ha welcomed the initiatives to promote inter-agency collaboration mechanisms in prevention and combat child sexual abuse. The Deputy Minister said that the Conference has been an opportunity to share contents that have been implemented well on the world and ASEAN, national policies and laws, and especially inter-agency collaboration mechanisms to deal with the situation of child sexual abuse. From there, creating a suitable environment for the comprehensive development of children, together with building a developed, people-centered ASEAN region, taking investment in children as the motivation of development to ensure cohesion and proactively adapt.
On this occasion, the Deputy Minister thanked and highly appreciated the efforts of the ASEAN Committee to Promote and Protect the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) and the ASEAN Secretariat, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), development partners, donors and agencies of ASEAN, and non-governmental organizations to ensure that every child enjoys the full rights which regulated in the Convention of children's rights, the ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind.
At the Conference, Mrs. Yanti Kusumawardhani, Representative of Children's Rights of Indonesia, Vice Chairman of the ASEAN Committee to Promote and Protect the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) raised challenges relating to health issues. Public health, food, employment, health and economic crises also lead to gaps in gender equality and socioeconomic inequalities for women and children, especially the abilities of access to information, access to health care, social security... She said that the challenges above and unforeseen crises show the importance of cooperation to recover and increased self-reliance in the region to implement priorities. ACWC remains committed to building a safe environment for all children in the region and will take action on sustainable development to promote and implement issues that guarantee the rights of women and children, as well as implement CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other commitments.
At the Conference, the delegates were updated with overview information on the situation and impact of sexual abuse on children in ASEAN and on the world, ASEAN's initiatives to prevent sexual abuse against children in recent years. At the same time, ASEAN member countries also shared the policy framework and good examples on solving the issues of child sexual abuse at the national level, from which, made recommendations to improve the implementation in the forthcoming time.