As vast number of children in Asia are increasingly become victims of complex problems, a new way of working together with increased synergy to uphold the dignity and rights of children at all levels is required, stated Archbishop Willem T.P Simarmata, moderator of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA).
In his inaugural address at the opening session of the three day Asia regional consultation on ‘Upholding the Dignity and Rights of Children: Role of Churches in Asia’ organised by the CCA, Bishop Simarmata said, “our churches and congregations must be friendly places for welcoming children at all times. Asian churches must cooperate with governments, national, regional and inter-governmental institutions as well as civil society organisations to protect the rights of children”.
The consultation is being hosted by the Gereja Protestan di Indonesia Bagian Barat (GPIB)/ The Protestant Church in the Western Part of Indonesia and held at its headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia from 16 to 20 September 2018.
In a keynote address delivered at the opening session, CCA General Secretary Dr. Mathews George Chunakara stated that “despite technological advancements in the present digitalised and globalised world, millions of children all over the world are abused and exploited in tragic ways on an unprecedented scale, and Asia is not an exception to this trend.”
“In an era of increased connectivity where digitalisation becomes the paramount feature of the day, a vast majority of children in Asia live in utter poverty and unable to enjoy any privilege or access to basic necessities in life. However, other children are privileged to enjoy affluence in life, but get addicted to modern technology and at the same they are trapped to the negative effects of the technological advancements,” said Dr. Mathews George Chunakara.
The CCA General Secretary quoted examples and statistics on how children in many parts of Asia are increasingly become victims of poverty, violence, ethnic conflicts, war, trafficking, forced labour, forced displacement, and statelessness.
In a presentation on ‘Children in conflict situation situations,’ Budi Soehardi of the Roslin Orphanage in Kupang of East Nusa Tenggara said more awareness is needed among Asian communities to promote the concept that every child has the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Ali Aulia Ramli of the UNICEF said in a presentation on ‘Impact and Challenges to Child Protection in a Digitalised World’ that “as the influence of digital technology and especially the internet – has increased and offering unlimited opportunity for communication and commerce, a sense of fear also pervades that it undermines the social fabric. In this situation, protecting children from the worst effects digital technology is a collective responsibility.”
In his analysis on ‘Poverty and Child Labour in Asia,’ Dr. Rohan Prabhakar Gideon, Associate Professor of the United Theological College in India commented: “If we very plainly say that poverty is the issue for child labour, then it raises false hope that once children and their families have earned enough money, then one day they could get out of the clutches of labour. Therefore, debate that poverty is solely responsible for child labour supports the inevitability of child labour that has to be critically evaluated”.
In a presentation on ‘Implementation of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Asia,’ Yuyum Fhahni Paryani of the ‘ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children’ (ACWC) said that “the aim of the Convention on Rights of the Child is to achieve the goal of transforming the lives of children. Civil society and faith-based organisations also have key roles to play in persuading Asian governments to implement the binding obligations on States”.
The consultation is attended by 60 participants representing churches, faith-based organisations, intergovernmental institutions, and civil society organisations across Asia.
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