Rise in domestic violence, deprivation of liberty, increased vulnerability of child laborers, awareness-raising initiative on “sexting during quarantine” and “digital dating violence”, lack of accurate, timely and necessary information…All those, at first sight not related things, are actually real threats to children detected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Partnership Network for Preventing Violence Against Children, with over 90 member CSOs around Turkey provides a platform for communication and consultation among child rights CSOs. During the pandemic, Partnership Network members have been adjusting their methods and shifting their focus in order to disseminate much needed accurate, timely and necessary information for child rights advocates, decision-makers, families, children and the public.
The ongoing pandemic has presented new challenges for child rights CSOs in terms of adapting to new working methods, shifting their focus, rapidly adapting to emerging needs in the society. It also magnified the old challenge such as children’s access to information, participation of civil society in decision- and policy-making, and effective cooperation between CSOs to overcome all these issues.
İdil Seda Ak from the member organization TOHAD which works in the field of persons with disabilities indicates that the Partnership Network has been “a valuable platform where we were able to learn from CSOs which reacted timely to the pandemic.
“Moreover, during the pandemic CSOs raised their voice about different important issues such as the rise in domestic violence, aggravated risks for children deprived of liberty, increased vulnerability of child laborers. Although we work in the field of children with disabilities, through the Partnership Network we are able to access timely the current situation in other fields which in turn guides our work”, says Idil Seda Ak.
TOHAD translated the easy-to-read information note in Turkish, prepared by Inclusion Europe, to make the information about the COVIID-19 understandable and accessible for everyone.
A member CSO, Development Workshop Cooperative has recently designed samples of SUPPLY KITS for seasonal migratory agricultural worker families and children in accordance with their needs during the pandemic. The aim is to guide individuals/experts and/or institutions who want to deliver/disseminate in-kind support for seasonal agricultural workers and their children in Turkey. Moreover, since the beginning of April 2020 this CSO has been monitoring the rights and needs of agricultural worker families and children and producing maps, visual materials and reports for evidence based-advocacy.
Another initiative came from FISA Children’s Right Center, which focuses on children’s access to accurate information. The organization has recently produced and circulated on-line series of informative videos, brochures and child books on COVID- 19.
Ezgi Koman from FISA says that “These documents aim at explaining what COVID-19 is and what are its implications in the lift of a child. Partnership Network was able to lift the physical constraints in widely disseminating our work”.
One issue that was on the agenda of numerous CSOs during the stay-at-home period was the resurgence of national discussion on the potential repentance law for child sexual abuse. Partnership Network’s advocacy efforts were complemented with the awareness-raising initiative on “sexting during quarantine” and “digital dating violence” by the member organization Association for Struggle Against Sexual Violence. The organization is also working on a podcast series focusing on violation of sexual rights of children and adolescents.
The pandemic underlined the need for strengthening the Network’s capacity in reaching its constituency. In order to fight disinformation and lack of child friendly information sources, in the upcoming period Partnership Network for Preventing Violence Against Children will be focusing on children’s right to information as a cornerstone of participation in national debates.
Established in 2012, the Partnership Network for Prevention of Violence against Children is made up of more than 90 CSOs in Turkey. The network facilitates and supports rights-based monitoring and advocacy activities of national or local CSOs, universities and professional organisations working in the field of prevention of violence against children.