“Ending violence against children cannot wait.” SRSG Maalla M’jid concludes five-day visit to the Solomon Islands

Honiara, 27 April 2023 – At the conclusion of a five-day visit to the Solomon Islands (23-27 April), the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, welcomed the political commitment to uphold the rights of every child and to tackle violence against children.

“During my visit, I have been very encouraged by the strong willingness and commitments to make progress on this issue, both at the level of the government and of service providers on the ground. But the need for action is urgent. About half of the population of the Solomon Islands is under the age of 18, and the prevalence of violence against children is deeply concerning,” said the Special Representative.

To guarantee the protection of children’s rights and their freedom from violence, the Special Representative emphasized the need to translate commitments into a concrete chain of services for children, families and communities, encompassing child protection, health, education, justice and social protection. Dr. Maalla M’jid stressed that ensuring effective coordination and accountability requires a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach, underpinned by a participatory mapping of who is delivering services and where the gaps are. To move from siloed approaches to sustainable integration of services that are accessible to all requires the UN and development partners to work together with all stakeholders to strengthen national and local capacities.

“Violence against children in the Solomon Islands has a huge human and economic cost. Preliminary findings from research on the cost of violence in the Solomon Islands indicate it amounts to 3.06% of GDP. Spending on integrated child- and gender-sensitive protection and violence prevention services must therefore be seen as an investment,” said the Special Representative.

“Protecting children and ending intergenerational violence is also at the heart of building and maintaining peace around the world and in the Solomon Islands,” said UN Resident Coordinator, Sanaka Samarasinha.

“Physical, emotional and sexual abuse can happen anywhere, in homes, in schools, online and in institutions: 86 per cent of children aged 2-14 have experienced some form of violent discipline (DHS 2015) and 37% of girls are sexually abused before the age of 15. We need to create stronger systems that protect all boys and girls,” said UNICEF Pacific’s Chief of Field Office Zelalem Taffesse.  “We must work together to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children.”