Abu Dhabi // Participants at a regional conference on children's rights yesterday agreed to a declaration calling for a variety of measures including legislation and better data to help combat child exploitation and abuse.
The Marrakesh Declaration called for better data on issues related to the protection of children from violence, exploitation and abuse; the adoption of legislation to protect children from all forms of violence; measures to end children's exposure to violence through the media; and the end of child labour, early marriage and corporal punishment.
The declaration concluded the Fourth High-Level Arab Conference on Children's Rights in Amman, organised by the League of Arab States with the participation of Marta Santos Pais, the UN secretary general's special representative on violence against children, Unicef, government ministers from Arab states, and representatives from NGOs.
Countries in the Mena region continue to be plagued by violence against children. According to statistics from the conference, 89 per cent of children in the region are subject to physical or psychological punishment.
"Violence takes place in all contexts, including where children are expected to enjoy a secure environment and special protection - in care institutions, in the school and also within the home," said Ms Pais.
In the UAE, the high-profile murder of a four-year-old boy during Eid al Adha last year prompted the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children to launch a series of campaigns to combat violence against women and children.
Almost 30 per cent of the victims the foundation sheltered in the first half of last year were children, up from just 10 per cent for all of 2008. In September, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department launched a campaign called "Violence begins at home" to spread awareness about child abuse.