The Pikinini Defenders campaign has been launched in response to the findings of a landmark report Unseen, Unsafe by agencies earlier this year.
The campaign is calling on the Papua New Guinea Government to make a commitment to fund 300 new Child Protection Officers (up from 115 currently) in the 2020 Budget.
These Child Protection Officers, based in PNG’s districts and provinces, will be mandated by the law to manage cases of child abuse or children at risk of abuse.
Unseen, Unsafe: Underinvestment in ending violence against children in the Pacific and Timor Leste revealed that 2.8 million children, or 75 percent of the child population in Papua New Guinea, experience violent discipline at home. Sexual violence is also exceptionally high with more than half of all sexual violence cases referred to medical clinics in Port Moresby and Tari being against children.
Save the Children Pacific Regional Director Jennifer El-Sibai welcomed Pikinini Defenders as the first locally-led campaign to address child abuse and said it presented a tangible opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of Papua New Guinean children.
“The rate of violence against children in Papua New Guinea is at crisis level. It is up to all of us – individuals, organisations and governments – to step up and take action,” El-Sibai said.
“This campaign shows the government just how strong the will is to protect children and promote their wellbeing.”
While Papua New Guinea has a range of existing laws and policies to protect children from violence, including the 2015 Lukautim Pikinini Act, government budget allocations have been insufficient to successfully implement key components of this framework.
“Allocating sufficient funding for more child protection officers will go a long way to protecting vulnerable children in Papua New Guinea,” El-Sibai said.
“Save the Children is proud to join this campaign and we encourage others to become Pikinini Defenders too.”
Pikinini Defenders is led by members of Papua New Guinea’s Child Protection Alliance which includes Save the Children, World Vision, ChildFund, PNG Tribal Foundation, Equal Playing Field, Cheshire Disability Services PNG, National Disabled Persons Organisation PNGADP, UNICEF, and the PNG Council of Churches.
Save the Children has been working in Papua New Guinea for over 35 years providing child protection, education and health support in partnership with local communities.