In 2015, world leaders acknowledged the severity of epidemic levels of violence against children and committed to end all forms of violence and exploitation of children by 2030. In 2018, the first ever End Violence Solutions Summit concluded in Stockholm. It was supported by the Government of Sweden, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and the WePROTECT Global Alliance. The following is an adaptation of a verbal presentation given by one of the participants.
My name is Rafael Denis. I am from Tanzania in eastern Africa and am here representing the millions of kids who cannot dream, talk or be happy. Not because they are not able to, but because people will not let them live. To us, living with violence is not living!
I do not know how you adults look at violence, but for us children who experience it, who are affected by it, it is an INJUSTICE, UNFAIR and UNACCEPTABLE.
Violence against children is happening in different parts of the world and this threatens a bright future for us. It is a shame that this is still happening in the 21st century while the world has power to stop it.
There are still millions of kids deprived of their right to education, married at a very young age, trafficked, and abandoned on the streets. We are tired of hoping for the situation to change, but it is only getting much worse. These are children, just like your children and just as you once were as a child.
We are wondering — what crime have we committed?
We understand that you have made efforts to change the situation, but we think much more needs to be done to end violence against children. Your decisions today affect our future. We need more than hopes and promises on paper, we need action on a big scale. It is important that you take our lives more seriously by keeping your commitments and making investments in children among your top priorities.
Provide us with safe, free, quality primary and secondary education. Provide us with improved protection systems and quality health services.
The world needs to change, it cannot change itself; it is me, it is you, it’s all of us who have to bring that change. Let us become the first generation that decides to be the last to see violence against children.
Let’s begin this ending together.
Rafael Denis speaking at the End Violence Solutions Summit held in Stockholm, Sweden, 14-15 February 2018.