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UNICEF Calls For Global Action to Prevent Cyberbullying

As part of this, it is implementing programmes to leverage the internet's promise of connectivity and education on behalf of the world's children

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Cyberattacks
An employee works near screens in the virus lab at the headquarters of Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow, July 29, 2013. VOA

UNICEF on Tuesday called for global concerted action to prevent online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment for over 70 per cent of children and young people online.

The call, made on Safer Internet Day, comes following a recent United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) poll of young people, which received more than a million responses over five weeks from more than 160 countries, and suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held around the world.

“We’ve heard from children and young people from around the globe and what they are saying is clear: The Internet has become a kindness desert,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

That’s why, she said, UNICEF is inviting everyone, young and old, to be kind online, and calling for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone.

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), while 94 per cent of young people, aged 15-24 in developed countries are online, more than 65 per cent of young people in developing countries are online. This is well ahead of the pace of Internet usage among the general population. Worldwide, half of the total population, regardless of age, is online.

US Intelligence, Privacy
A specialist works at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va., Sept. 9, 2014. (VOA)

“This online proliferation comes with increased risk,” Fore said. According to data from UNESCO on the prevalence of cyberbullying in high-income countries, the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyberbullying ranges from 5 per cent to 21 per cent, with girls appearing to be more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys.

Cyberbullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually following its victims online for life. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and skip school than other students. In extreme situations, cyberbullying has led to suicide.

In honour of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF also called for renewed urgency and cooperation to put children’s rights at the forefront of digital efforts.

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As part of this, it is implementing programmes to leverage the internet’s promise of connectivity and education on behalf of the world’s children.

“Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the creation of the World Wide Web, it is time for governments, families, academia and the private sector to put children and young people at the centre of digital policies,” said Fore. (IANS)

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Africa: New Dresses, Youth Action – Ending Female Circumcision

Right now the civil society in Africa is truncated, you have fragmentation

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Africa, Dresses, Youth
FILE - A man shows the logo of a T-shirt that reads "Stop the Cut" referring to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) during a social event advocating against harmful practices such as FGM at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

Hundreds of delegates from African governments and campaigners gathered in Senegal this week to discuss how to end female genital mutilation (FGM), which world leaders pledged to eradicate under a set of global goals agreed in 2015.

But the ancient ritual — which typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia and can cause pain, infertility and death — remains deeply entrenched in many African countries despite years of activism.

Here are some quotes from participants at the summit, which ended Tuesday, on priorities for ending FGM in Africa:

Isatou Touray, Vice President of the Gambia

Africa, Dresses, Youth
Hundreds of delegates from African governments and campaigners gathered in Senegal this week to discuss how to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Pixabay

“What is missing is political will. Some countries have enacted acts but the enforcement of those instruments for the promotion of women’s and children’s rights — that is missing.

“Number two is the weak capacity of civil society. Right now the civil society in Africa is truncated, you have fragmentation. We need to have a strong movement.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of U.N. Women

“One area that I think is a gap is law enforcement. This is a crime. When people do it then they are breaking the law.

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“You don’t see prosecutions enough for crimes committed against women in general … from domestic violence to rape. So we need law enforcement to step it up.”

Fatou Ndiaye Deme, Women’s Ministry, Senegal

“What is missing is good coordination. The action also needs to be at the community level. It can’t just be high-level meetings, the community has to be involved.”

Mamadou Traore, Imam, Mali

Africa, Dresses, Youth
Some countries have enacted acts but the enforcement of those instruments for the promotion of women’s and children’s rights — that is missing. Pixabay

“The obstacle is the religiosity of the practice. Some religious leaders think it is part of Islam.

“Now that they have seen that there are negative consequences, some imams have asked to medicalize the practice.

We are working with doctors to show that you can’t medicalize it, because you don’t cut this part to heal but to wound.”

Virginia Lekumoisa, survivor and activist, Kenya

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“Using the power of the youth is what I feel like other countries are not doing.

“Maybe what makes us stand out [in Kenya] is the fact that we have backed this up with youth action and power from the youth networks, working to end FGM and actually taking action.”

Rugiatu Turay, chairwoman, Forum Against Harmful Traditional Practices, Sierra Leone

“One of the most important things is funding, because you have the willingness.

“We have communities that are now willing to remove the shrine [where FGM happens], but in removing the shrine we also have to put on some kind of fanfare and celebrations. We have to make sure the women will have new dresses. So it’s all about funding.”

Ifrah Ahmen, campaigner, Somalia

“We have the international support and we have international leaders who back us up but this is our issue.

“I think now is the time to ring the bell for African leaders to speak up.” (VOA)