Child abuse costs the Asia Pacific region US$ 209 billion
UNICEF has for the first time put a figure to the cost of child abuse in the Asia Pacific region and it is a whopping $209 billion US.
UNICEF has for the first time put a figure to the cost of Child abuse in East Asia and the Pacific and it comes in at a 209 billion US dollars per year.
A communication specialist for UNICEF Asia Pacific, Andrew Brown, says the figure is a wake-up call for the region's governments.
He told Koroi Hawkins that the situation for most Pacific countries is worse than in East Asia.
ANDREW BROWN: Everybody knows that child abuse is wrong. That it is morally wrong and that it has to stop, but what we have been able to show with this research is that it also has a serious impact on economies and we have costed that at 209 billion US dollars a year. And that is equivalent to around two percent of GDP. And so this allows us to go to governments in the region and not just make a moral case for taking action against child maltreatment but to also make an economic case. And we can see the impact on things like healthcare systems, on increased levels of violence and criminality and all of these things have a knock on impact on the economy.
KOROI HAWKINS: And just going a bit more into depth on where these numbers are coming from and how you get to these numbers?
AB: These are estimates based on individual country level research but then we are able to create estimates across the region and we can break that down into for instance low middle and high income countries. Actually the prevalence is highest in middle income countries.
KH: What is there, the effect on the Pacific region?
AB: At the moment the research that we have done takes a kind of Asia Pacific regional view um certainly in terms of lower middle income countries we are looking at around 3.1 percent of GDP. But what we are encouraging countries to do is to then do specific national studies. Certainly we know that in Pacific countries this is a major issue. There is a large, in countries like Papua New Guinea for instance and some of the other Pacific islands there are very high rates of gender based violence. So that is violence against women and girls. So definitely it is an issue for those countries, but in this report we don't go to the level of specific countries, we take a regional overview.
KH: Is this worse then you expected and are you expecting improvement?
AB: We are certainly expecting improvements I mean this is the first time that this research has ever been done so we really didn't know what the scale was. I mean two percent of GDP is high. You can on an individual level, country level you can work out what that is costing but certainly at the region we are talking 209 billion US dollars a year. So this is very, very high but we do want to use this research to take action. And another thing to say is that every government in this region has signed the UN convention on the rights of the child which does commit them to take action on this issue. And we are confident that with the right action we can get these figures down.
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