Child rights

Friday, 26 October 2018

Praxis Held a Consultative Meeting with the Representatives of Institutions in Požarevac to Discuss the Prevention and Elimination of Child, Early and Forced Marriages

On 26 October 2018, Praxis held a consultative meeting with representatives of institutions in Požarevac to discuss the prevention and elimination of child, early and forced marriages, as part of the project "Legal Assistance to Persons at Risk of Statelessness in Serbia", financed by UNHCR. 

The aim of the meeting was to gather representatives of all relevant institutions in Požarevac to discuss this issue and give proposals of the policies for eradicating child, early and forced marriages. The meeting was attended by representatives of social welfare centres and schools, while representatives of the police, health sector and prosecutors did not respond to the invitation. After the introductory presentation of the speakers, the meeting participants were informed about the activities conducted by Praxis in the field of prevention and elimination of child, early and forced marriages, thus getting a better insight into the problem and Praxis’ suggestions for its solution. After a brief overview of the state’s responsibility in the prevention and elimination of child marriages, the meeting participants were also informed about national and international legislation in this area. It was followed by a discussion about what each of us could and must do, and what we expected from other links in the chain of cooperation. Real-life case studies were also discussed in order to prevent the problem of child, early and forced marriages, which are closely related to the problem of statelessness in Serbia. Accordingly, the Statelessness Index, which assesses how countries in Europe protect stateless people and what they are doing to prevent and reduce statelessness, was presented.

One of the conclusions of the discussion was insufficient and uncoordinated cooperation of competent institutions, i.e. transfer of responsibility from one institution to another. Representatives of social welfare centres pointed out that it was necessary to establish agreements on cross-sectoral cooperation as well as to consistently apply the existing protocols on action in case of child abuse and/or neglect. They considered that one of the main obstacles was the lack of support from the relevant Ministry and disregard by the court and prosecutor’s offices. School representatives reported poor cooperation with parents as the main obstacle in solving the problem of child marriages. Despite being rather aware of the seriousness of this problem, professionals are still insufficiently sensitive to the problems of the Roma population; their actions continue to be guided by prejudice and they continue to perceive this problem through the lens of cultural tradition. Consequently, it is necessary to continue with this or similar education with constant awareness raising about the fact that the problem of child marriages must not be ignored and that traditional practice should not be an excuse for violating the rights of the child. 

By the end of 2018, Praxis will hold two more consultative meetings in Belgrade.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action