Concerned about the growing plight of children in many parts of Asia, church leaders will gather in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 28-31 August and from 1-4 September in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to evolve a strategy for mobilising churches to take a more active role in overcoming violence against children in both local and national contexts in Asia.
These two consultations, jointly organised by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), will focus on creating a culture of peace for children at the community level through equipping churches to address the increasing trend of violence against children, especially in conflict-ridden countries in Asia.
Bringing together around 70 church leaders from WCC and CCA member churches in Asia, one of the main aims of the consultations will be to develop an "Ecumenical Action Plan for Overcoming Violence against Children in Asia".
More and more often, we hear the cry of children who live unprotected from violence, exploitation and abuse. Violence against children occurs within the family, at school, in the community, at work, in institutions, on the street, or in conflict situations.
Bought and sold like commodities, children are forced to be soldiers, sex workers, bonded labourers in factories and agricultural fields, and domestic servants. In South Asia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal are the most affected countries; in South East Asia, it is Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
"These two consultations are part of the global and regional ecumenical bodies' ongoing efforts to challenge the churches in Asia not to remain silent when it comes to promoting the dignity of marginalised children, especially as a traditional charity approach to such issues often takes precedence,î said the WCC Asia secretary, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, who co-ordinates the WCC programme on the "Dignity of Children".
The consultations tie in with the WCC Decade to Overcome Violence, which will focus on Asia in 2005, and with the 12th CCA general assembly theme, "Building communities of peace for all".