Monday, July 25, 2016

Why children‘s rights is an icon of true African societies

LAST month, African countries celebrated the Day of African Child (DAC). The occasion is commemorated annually as a remembrance of the importance of children as they are future builders of the African society and the world at large. The DAC is commemorated every year on 16 June by Member States of the African Union (AU), and its Partners. This occasion is firstly a commemoration to recall the 1976 uprisings which took place in Soweto, South Africa. The DAC reminds African nations who felt pity when police officials of the minority regime of the Apartheid South African government killed unarmed young African children who were demonstrating on the streets. The children were protesting against apartheid –inspired educational curriculum which had elements of discriminations among schools in South Africa by then. Since 1991, the OAU and its successor, the AU, have since used the DAC to celebrate children in Africa as well as to inspire sober reflection and action towards addressing the plethora of challenges that African children face on a daily basis. The Concept Note for this year edition sets out the situational context of conflict and crisis in Africa and the impact on children. It further highlights the challenges hindering the elimination of conflicts and crises in Africa, to finally recommend examples of best practice in the elimination of conflicts. In addition to that, the DAC has a great significance in African societies being an icon that demonstrate peace among children in African continent bearing the fact that, children are taken as future leaders of the continent. The occasion also has some significance in it as it reminds stakeholders from public and civil societies and administrators as well, to think about the basic necessities of children so as to make them grow in a society from their childhood to adulthood. Childhood is an early stage of growth for a normal human being who by nature after having been born needs parental care so as to reach the maturity stage and become aware of the global activities and most importantly is able to participate in various economic developments for the society. Medical doctors and psychologists suggests that, child care is of the most paramount importance because it is the early stage of human development which if strictly followed makes children to grow mentally and physically for the wellbeing of the future generation. “Imagine a world in which children are free from poverty, live in happiness and have open access to social basic needs like adequate free education, free medical care, and many others”, these are the components that makes a society to be free, says a psychologist. Rebecca Samson a psychologist on child behaviours working at a UN organized refugee camp in Kasulu is of the view of the fact that, “in a world where children, even those born in a disadvantaged part of the world, can be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy for the development of a nation if all the basic necessities for their lives are provided freely.  

Children at work in a construction site

She further stated that, in order to tackle children behaviours into morality, the basic necessities for them should be provided in order to make them grow mentally and psychologically. In view of all these factors, it is therefore imperative for African countries to stand firm to protect the conventions of the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) which have been ratified in national laws to protect the wellbeing of children in Africa, says Andrew Thomas a human right activist According to him, Africa needs to prepare its own leaders who in future would stand to defend African culture and stand to represent the continent into the international outlook. In order to achieve the goals, African governments must show commitments by laying a strong foundation for children by looking at the basic necessities required by then in the society. But it has come to the general understanding that, the basic rights of children are still abused in most societies despite of the United Nations conventions which almost every country in the world has adopted as part of children protection agenda. There are various forms of child abuse which most nations have violated and the most notorious one is child labour. This kind of violence against children has a profound impact on emotional, behavioural and physical health and social development throughout their lifetime. Tanzania ratified the UN-ILO’s conventions No. 182 and 138 respectively for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour as well as the minimum age of employment required. A report of progress of this by the ILO at the global level shows a significant progress is being made. In the period between 2000 and 2012, there had been a decline of over 340 percent in the number of children trapped in child labour from 246 million to 168 million. Over ten years between 2004 and 2014, the ILO’s Child labour program has been active in over 1207 countries with 42 in Africa, 25 in America, 17 in Asia and the Pacific, 16 in Europe and central Asia and 7 from Arab States. Another form of violence against children is sexual harassments which of late has become a common practice in Tanzania.  Latest results of a national survey on violence against children in Tanzania reveals that, almost a third of females aged 13 to 24 experience at least one incident of sexual violence before the age of 18. The most common form of sexual violence experienced was unwanted sexual touching followed by attempted unwanted sexual intercourse. Among males in the same age group, more than 13 percent stated that they had experienced at least one incident of sexual abuse prior to the age of 18. Victims of sexual violence are often reluctant to let others know about their experiences due to confusion, feelings of guilt, shame, fear of not being believed, or even being reprimanded for what shall have occurred.

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