At the regional sessions of the GNRC 5th Forum in Panama in May 2017, participants from Middle East observed that violent incidences against children (VAC) occurred on daily basis with very few of them being reported to the relevant agencies. Lack of official statistics on the different forms of VAC across the region was also noted. VAC in the region was attributed to the high poverty levels in the communities and high illiteracy levels of the parents or grandparents. The participants arrived at the conclusion that protecting children is not only the responsibility of the faith communities, but that of the society as a whole including governments.
As a follow-up to the Fifth Forum, twenty (20) participants from Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine held a consultative meeting in Amman, Jordan on 30th September to 1st October 2017, to discuss ways to address the challenge of violence against children. Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali Secretary General GNRC, introduced to the participants the work of the GNRC, paying more attention to the Panama commitments on Ending Violence against Children. Rev. Fred Nyabera, Director, End Child Poverty, gave a brief description of the work of End Child Poverty initiative and reminded the participants that child poverty could not be overcome without addressing all forms of violence against children.
In groups, they discussed three thematic areas namely: 1) Impact of negative child upbringing and illiteracy of religious individuals on the scale of violence against children; 2) Strategies to end physical and psychological abuse of children in places of worship, home and school; and 3) Link between child poverty and sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and strategies to end them in line with ending child poverty.
Ways to strengthen the GNRC in the Middle East also represented a core part of discussions at the meeting. Regional or Sub-Regional projects were proposed as one way to bring members from different countries to work together, thereby strengthening the GNRC.
The participants included human rights activists, religious leaders and representatives from local and international NGOs. Below is the list of all the participants:
- P. Mueen Al-Hillo, Catholic Church, Madaba
- Imam Mustafa Abu Rumman, Imam, Sohaib Mosque
- Mr. Hanna Salameh, Human Rights Activist
- Mr. Omar Al Zaru, Chairman, CISV Jordan
- Dr. Rajaa Bawabiji, National Center for Human Rights
- Ms. Nisreen Hijazeen, Caritas Jordan
- Ms. Abeer Fakhoury, Caritas Jordan
- Mr. Fares Murad, Rotary Club Jordan
- Mr. Jeris Shaheen, President, Rotary Club Jordan
- Ms. Lucein Heyworth, Caritas Jordan
- Ms. Christina Khoury, Arab Woman and Child Organization
- Mr. Khaled Batarseh, Arab Woman and Child Organization
- Fr. Abdo Raad, Annas Linnas Association
- Mr. Hassan Fawaz, Annas Linnas Association
- Ms. Nawal Naim, Annas Linnas Association
- Imam Iyad Abdullah, Arab Educational Association
- Ms. Raeda Refai, Arab Educational Association
- Ms. Roger Salameh, Arab Educational Association
- Ms. Rania Murra, Arab Educational Association
- Ms. Vivian Rabia, Oasis of Peace