CSOs advocate against youth, child right abuse


November 23, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Participants from various CSOs

Civil Society Organisations working in the area of  youth and child right protection, yesterday held a one day stakeholders dialogue forum to commence the commemoration of 19th days activism for the prevention of violence against children and young people.

The event was organised by Network Movement for Youth and Children’s Welfare, in collaboration with Action Aid Sierra Leone, FoRUT and other civil society organisations.

Chairperson of the event, Mrs. Boi Jenneh Jalloh, who doubles as the Executive Director of FoRUT,  Sierra Leone, talked about the 19 international themes for the 19 days event, adding that statistics has shown that nearly 30% of domestic workers in the world are children and that the event would be geared towards  raising  awareness about child labour.

She noted that child labour affects the social and physical development of   children, hence organisations were advocating and raising awareness on the negative effects of the issue.

Giving a background to the event, Executive Director, Network Movement for Youth and Children’s Welfare, Haji Bah, said November, said 2017 marked the 7th edition of the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF)’s 19 days of activism for the prevention of violence against children and youth.

He said although other forms of abuse and violence exist, the WWSF has selected 19 themes with 2018 focusing on ending corporal punishment.

He said the event was to convey a very clear message to society that it was unacceptable to use disciplinary or punishment measures against children.

He added that unfortunately 300 million children were in the world and approximately one of every four of them suffered violence in early life.

He said several attempts have been made by local government through bye laws to address the issues of trafficking, child labour and street children within the Western Area, adding that  non-governmental organisations focusing on child protection also collaborated with state institutions to minimise the abuse.

According to him, the success of the process was undermined by several factors including the post-civil war, Ebola crises and recent mudslide in Freetown.

He said the goal of the event was to put a stop to the abuse of children, as well as discourage them from living in the street for survival.

He added that if children were engaged through dialogue and experience sharing, their stories will be told and that would help authorities to understand their present situation and find solutions to their suffering.

He said the objective of the activity was to promote the rights of the child through mass media communication- production of jingles for long time campaign and to increase learning on child abuse or violence through the mass media and non-state actors.

In her statement, Aminata Kelly-Lamin, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Action Aid Sierra Leone, said they joined the world over  commemorate 19 days of activism in partnership with Network Movement for youth and children’s Welfare and other players with the local theme “standing together with children to say no to street children, child labour abuse in Sierra Leone deduced from the international theme six corporal punishment in Sierra Leone.”

She said the 19 days campaign is a multi-issue call for action to change social behaviour, educate and mobilise diverse organisations and civil society partners including young people, to be involved in the prevention of one or more of the 19 abuse.

She further that it would also help to create a culture for better prevention and end of violence against children and youth, adding that the issue is structurally  perpetrated by the hidden  powers in society at all levels.

She said many of the street children chose to live such life because they were seemingly beaten or sexually abused at home, thus citing poverty and homelessness as some of the reasons behind children being out in the streets.

He noted that children faced further abuse through exploitation, child labour, prostitution and involvement of intake of alcohol and drugs while in the streets.

Executive Director of Sierra Leone Alcohol Policy Alliance (SLAPA), Habib T. Kamara, said children and young people were the most  vulnerable and abuse population in the country, and that they needed more attention for the country to attain the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

He said SLAPA was of the view that if the free quality education was to succeed, school environments should be protected against the sale of alcohol and other harmful substances.

He called on the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, Children Commission, Police and other state actors to put more robust action to trap those involved in harmful activities alongside children.

Assistant Inspector General of Police, Michael Kelly Dumbuya, Officer at the Gender Affairs, Hospitality and Protocol, said the police force believes that children are the future leaders of any nation hence they were always be careful in dealing with them.

He said they have over the years established the Family Support Unit to handle complaints from children regarding any abused meted on them by their parents.