The three-day sensitisation forum with the theme, ‘Speak up, Speak out, End Child Marriage,’ seeks to discourage violence against children. It was held at the National Nutrition Agency and funded by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives and United Nations Children Fund.
Speaking, Abdou Jatta, Unicef Speak Africa Youth Spokesperson, said: “The government of The Gambia has signed and ratified without any reservation, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in August 1990 and September 2000. We have also signed and ratified the International Labour Organisation Conventions 138 and 182 as well as other protocols and covenants on children. This by extension shows the strong commitment the government has to the cause and welfare of its young citizenry.
“[However], early marriage is a burning issue affecting the fabric of society and this is due to various factors, including among others, the search for economic survival, protection of young girls, peer group and family pressure, controlling female behaviour and sexuality, wars and civil conflicts and socio-cultural and religious values. It is a violation of girls’ rights as it deprives them from freedom, opportunity for personal development and other rights.”
Filly Nyassi, while deputising for the director of Department of Social Welfare commented: “The government continues to create the appropriate legal and policy frameworks that are protective of child rights. The measures adopted by the government are to prevent, investigate and punish perpetrators of violence against children and to provide redress to victims.”
Nyassi added that President Jammeh has pronounced free and compulsory basic education by September 2015 during the launching of Operation Save the Children which will create avenue to addressing child marriage and create a brighter future for Gambian children.
The President of Young People in the Media, Eric Samuel Ketter said violence against children is an issue happening all over the world and The Gambia is not an exception. He stated that this was why they came up with the forum in order to advocate and sensitise people on violence against children.
“Each day holds a surprise but only if we expect to see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let us not be afraid to receive each day with surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”]]>