The objective of the UNICEF Child Protection Programme is to ensure the protection for the most disadvantaged children ― victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty and all forms of violence and exploitation …’ (UNICEF’s Strategic Medium-Term Plan 2014–2017). Despite the efforts made in Haiti, cases of exploitation, discrimination, violence and abandonment still reach alarming proportions; the situation is exacerbated by harmful traditional practices, discrimination against women, an unsatisfactory rate of birth registrations and the socio-political crisis that has engulfed the country for many years.
women (aged 18-24) victims of violence before age 18
men (aged 18-24) victims of violence before age 18
Having ratified the principal international instruments on human rights and the rights of the child, Haiti is committed to the development of a “World Fit for Children”. However, despite significant efforts made to protect children, they have not led to the enactment of laws and/or their implementation to ensure full protection of children. Cases of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children are rampant in the Haitian society.
Child protection in Haiti is very complex and requires a multisectoral approach due to the multitude of challenges it faces:
- The country does not have a clearly developed child protection policy.
• According to the 2012 annual report of the Institute of Social Well-being and Research (Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherche, IBESR), more than 28,000 children live separated from their families in institutions (orphanages and nurseries) .
• More than 3,000 children live on the streets in the capital, Port-au-Prince (International Medical Assistance April 2011 study on street children).
• In 2011, 86% of children aged 2 to 14 have experienced some form of punishment (whippings or emotional, physical and psychological abuse) either at school or at home according to the Demographic and Health Survey (Enquête Mortalité, Morbidité et Utilisation des Services, EMMUS V). According to the EMMUS IV report on child labour, 87% of children aged 5-17 had performed some work during the week that preceded the survey. In Haiti, 24% of children under 18 are considered as vulnerable children OVC (EMMUS IV).
• Up to 2,000 children a year are given up for international adoption without minimum evaluation by the State to ensure the protection of the child or to prevent illegal adoptions
• Approximately 250,000 children work as domestic workers in Haiti. They are vulnerable to exploitation and are deprived of their basic rights
• According to the 2012 annual report of the Child Protection Brigade (Brigade de protection des mineurs, BPM), thousands of children cross the official and unofficial borders between Haiti and the Dominican Republic without papers and are vulnerable to child trafficking, prostitution and other forms of exploitation.
• Access to basic social services is practically non-existent in much of the rural areas of the country.
THE MAIN CHALLENGES
- Corporal punishment is widely practiced in Haiti, with an estimated 86% of children aged 2 to 14 being victims of physical and/or psychological punishment.
- According to UNICEF, 50% of children aged 5-14 work; this proportion increases to 64% in the Northeast and the Centre of the country.
- National HIV prevalence has not changed since 2005-2006 (2.2%) and is higher in the Northeast departement (3.9%). Women are increasingly at risk, with 2.9% of women in urban and 2.5% in rural areas being HIV-infected compared to 1.9% of men in urban and 1.5% in rural areas.
UNICEF’s main intervention has been to create a protective environment for vulnerable children in Haiti. This action covers several areas:
- Advocacy and technical support for the ratification of international instruments and harmonisation of the national legal framework: UNICEF has appealed for the ratification of the conventions and treaties on child rights, such as the Hague Convention. UNICEF also provides technical support for the revision of Haitian law in accordance with international norms and standards.
- Capacity building of major actors in the field of child protection: UNICEF provides both financial, logistical and technical support to key partners working in the field of child protection such as the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (Ministère des Affaires Sociales et du Travail or MAST), the Institute of Social Well-being and Research (IBESR), the autonomous body under the Ministry, and the National Police of Haiti (Police nationale d’Haïti or PNH) through the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (Brigade de protection des mineurs or BPM). This leads to better coordination between the various actors and a stronger presence in the departments and at the borders.
- Strengthening the referral system for improved response to violence, abuse and exploitation: UNICEF provides technical support to the IBESR and its partners by developing technical tools to deal with child-related problems (street children, institutionalised children, separated children, children affected by conflict or children in contact with the law) and to strengthen the referral system between the various bodies for an effective response to problems.
- Improving data collection and use: UNICEF provides support to key actors in the field of child protection such as IBESR and BPM by installing and upgrading databases to ensure improved data collection and use, and reliable statistics. UNICEF also conducts or supports research on the situation of children in Haiti to guide the country’s policies and programmes.
- Prevention of violence against, and abuse and exploitation of children: UNICEF helps non-governmental organisations and local associations educate communities, families and children on child rights and improve access to child services.
Stories about child protection…
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