Delegates from across Southeast Asia are meeting today for the Asean Consultation on Cultural and Religious Practices Impacting on the Rights of Children.

The event that is taking place in Jakarta from today until Thursday, according to a press release from the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (Unicef).

It said representatives from governments, United Nations (UN) agencies, civil society organisations and academia will join religious and cultural leaders to analyse religious and traditional practices that have implications for child rights in Southeast Asia, using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The event aims to build a network of child rights advocates among the various stakeholders, and will end with joint recommendations on promoting children’s rights.

“This consultation is one of the Asean priorities for 2012–16 in promoting the rights of children through religious and cultural practices,” said Ahmad Taufan Damanik, Indonesia’s Representative for Child Rights to the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

“Spirituality and religion can have a profound influence on children’s development and socialisation, with the potential to reinforce protective influences and promote resilience,” said Daniel Toole, Unicef Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific.

“But if our shared goal of creating a world fit for children is to be realised, we all need to speak about issues that harm children, share solutions, and work together to implement them.”

Unicef said religion and culture could be a positive force in society, promoting the enjoyment of child rights.

However, while many cultural values of Asean member countries contribute to the protection of child rights, some practices can undermine it by objectifying children, discriminating against girls, exploiting children and condoning violence against them.

A 2006 study by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children found that a range of violent traditional practices which harm children may be perceived as normal in their communities, particularly when they do not result in lasting visible physical injury.

All Asean member states will be expected to have national consultations to end any form of violence against children from religious and cultural practices.

The event is organised by the Indonesian Representative to the ACWC, in cooperation with Unicef’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indonesian Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection. – Bernama, November 18, 2014.

– See more at: