UNICEF appoints Ayushmann Khurana as celebrity advocate for child rights

New Delhi (NVI): Actor Ayushmann Khurana has been appointed as a celebrity advocate by UNICEF for its child rights campaign- #ForEveryChild. Khurana, who is also considered a youth icon, will support UNICEF towards its work around ending violence against children, the agency said in a statement.

Ayushmann Khurrana said that he is very pleased to partner with UNICEF as a celebrity advocate. “I believe that everyone deserves the best start in life. As I watch my children play in the safety and happiness of our home, I think about all the children who never get to experience a safe childhood and grow up with violence at home or outside.

“With UNICEF, I look forward to supporting rights of the most vulnerable children, so that they grow up as happier, healthier, educated citzens in nurturing environments free from violence,” he said.

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India said welcomed Khurana as a celebrity advocate for children’s rights.

“I am delighted to welcome Ayushmann Khurrana as a UNICEF celebrity advocate. He’s an actor who challenges the boundary of every role he plays. He will bring a sensitivity, passion and a powerful voice for every child, with a specific focus towards ending violence against children.

“Ayushmann’s support will help increase awareness about this important issue, especially now with Covid-19 heightening the risk of violence and abuse against children due to the extended lockdown and the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic,” she said.

Violence against children, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, when people are forced to remain indoors to curb the spread of infection, has been a major concern for UNICEF and other child rights bodies.

UNICEF said that violence occurs every day and is reality for a large number of girls and boys in India. Often the violence is caused or perpetrated by someone the child knows and trusts. Violence happens in those places intended to be protective: at home, at school, in their communities, in specialized institutions for children.

The violence or abuse can also be online, UNICEF said. As daily lives and families are disrupted by COVID-19, children may be at increased risk as illness, school closures, job loss and isolation measures put additional stress on families and may lead to negative coping mechanisms that may sadly include abusive behaviors against children, it added.

As per the data by National Family Health Survey (NFHS), one out of five adolescent girls have experienced physical violence since age 15 and one in three adolescent girls married or in union have experienced violence by their husband or partners.

Every hour, 5 cases of child sexual abuse are reported, as per a 2018 NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) report.

50% of cases of sexual abuse are perpetrated by close family members or friends, says another 2018 NCRB report.

99% of school children are subjected to physical and mental abuse by teachers, according to a 2012 NCPCR report.

One in three children in India have reported that they experienced cyberbullying, says a 2019 U-Report.