Save the Children is urging the Government of Liberia and development partners to work together to compile, adopt and implement national action plans that protect, respect, promote and fulfill the rights of children from harmful traditional practices.
In a special statement delivered by the Montserrado County Child Protection Officer of the Child Protection Program of Save the Children, Lovely W. Sie on behalf of its Country Director on the observance of the Day of the African Child, it was noted that public awareness and educational activities should involve policy makers, respected elders, traditional leaders and community workers.
Poudyal said, “We cannot afford as a nation to let these children remain invisible. All societies have positive cultural practices aimed at promoting cohesions among members and sustaining societies and on the other hand there are practices which may be harmful to specific groups, often times to women and girls.”
Meanwhile, Madam Sie said the theme of this year’s celebration is an opportune time to call attention to harmful social and cultural practices against children and highlight the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders, particularly children who will be provided an opportunity to express their views on various harmful practices.
She also recalled how the Day presents an opportunity for governments, communities and international institutions to renew their commitments to supporting the needs of specific theme every year and reminded how varieties of such harmful practices can be found in Africa.
Madam Sie said Liberia being a signatory to various international treaties and protocols that directly and indirectly address the issues of harmful traditional practices like many countries have initiated efforts to overcome harmful social and cultural practices.
She named some of the harmful traditional practices to mean sexual and gender based violence, early forced marriages, sexual initiation and female genital mutilation, opportunity marginalization and land inheritance exclusion.
Serving as keynote speaker on the theme, “Eliminating harmful social and cultural practices affecting children; our collective responsibility,” the Commissioner of Careysburg District, Victoria Washington, encouraged the traditional leaders to collaborate with school authorities to put in place proper timing mechanisms.
Madam Washington said it is incumbent upon the traditional leaders, Internal Affairs and school authorities to work around their various schedules to avoid conflicts between authorities of traditional practices and academic schools.
Current statistics shows that 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide have suffered female genital mutilation and that puts three million girls at risk yearly; the World Health Organization reported.
While the African Union Commission report says seven out of nine countries with the highest proportions of child marriage are found in Africa and in Nigeria, 80-98 percent of girls and women felt that forced sex was condoned if a man paid a bride price for a woman.
Save the Children observed the Day with an indoor program with students from various schools in the Careysburg District which was attended by 254 persons including teachers and parents as well as traditional groups.