We welcome the UNICEF led Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. Children and young people should not be at risk of, or exposed to, violence at all. Ever. Yet in our work, the evidence is overwhelming. Physical and sexual violence against D/deaf children is endemic. We’ve evidenced it in South Africa and we’re doing the same in Jamaica, Zimbabwe, the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan and more… And as and when we have a critical mass of evidence to disseminate – we’ll publish it.
Our programme in Jamaica has encountered some appalling sexual abuse with the victims as young as 4 years of age and the abuse perpetrated by a parent. We’re not having that and rest assured, we’re working with our partners in Jamaica to ensure this case and others are remedied as best possible. But it’s difficult, D/deafness is a disability few agencies understand and it is expensive; it involves expensive human resources like Sign Language and Deaf Relay interpreters. To properly equip child protection and criminal justice professionals require specialist and costly communications training. So, ironically, whilst it seems everyone in Western Europe and North America wants to learn sign language and $ millions is spent on ‘BabySign’, few agencies want to fund the protection of D/deaf children. Because it’s complicated, involves huge communication barriers and everything takes so long. So the global health and humanitarian community just skim over things and pay lip service, labelling D/deafness as ‘disability’, a convenient and useful blanket term.
We’ll be looking to address these issues in our consultation with the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children; that the authentic D/deaf voice of DeafKidz International is heard at all levels. We’ll be looking to see that the Partnership’s work is truly inclusive and that in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 16.2, the nightmare of violence against D/deaf children is tangibly addressed.
We’re realistic though, this will all take time and it won’t be easy, but we’re on it.
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