East Timor: Over 87pct of children target of ‘endemic’ violence at home – report

More than 87% of children in East Timor are the target of violence at home, as a form of discipline, according to a report that states that the problem has reached “endemic proportions” in the country, as in the Pacific region at large.

The report, which was compiled by four non-governmental organisations with extensive experience in the region – Plan International, ChildFund, World Vision and Save The Children – states that Timor-Leste is among eight countries in the region with the highest levels of violence against children at home.

Titled ‘Unseen, Unsafe: The underinvestment in ending violence against children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste’, the report, which was released at the United Nations in late July, says that almost 613,000 children under the age of 14 (or 87.4% of the total) suffer “violent discipline at home”.

The figure puts East Timor ahead of countries such as Vanuatu (83.5%), Kiribati (81%) and Papua New Guinea (75.7%).

According to the study, the problem has reached “endemic levels” with more than 4 million children in the region suffering violent discipline at home or, in some cases, sexual abuse.

According to Save the Children, the report shows “high levels of shocking physical, sexual and emotional violence against children in the region”, a phenomenon that it says will have a “profound and long-term” impact on the population.

The authors of the report argue that it is not the use of discipline as such that is at issue, but the particularly violent or humiliating methods used.

The report states that in the region almost a quarter of the adolescents were subjected to physical violence and that more than 10% were subjected to sexual violence.

In Papua New Guinea, too, there is an “exceptionally high” prevalence of violence against children, it states. According to data from the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF), children account for more than half the cases of sexual violence they see in their clinics in Port Moresby and Tari.