Child trafficking is a global problem and as such, this year’s Day of the African Child’s (DAC) commemoration based its central theme on child trafficking.
Save the Children Children’s Club at Grey Bush commemoration of the day was unique. They held a rally against child trafficking and performed drama on child trafficking; which was climaxed by sports.
The ministry of social welfare yesterday commemorated the DAC, in collaboration with the Global Movement for Children, UNICEF, and other stakeholders in a colourful parade of pupils from the Victoria Park to the National Stadium, Brookfields in Freetown.
In her statement, UNICEF’s Alison Parker congratulated MPs and the Government, through the ministry of social welfare, gender and children’s affairs for taking a bold step in making the bill on the Rights of the Child as a gift on the Day of the African Child.
She noted that Sierra Leone’s adoption of the theme of this year’s commemoration, “stop child trafficking for national development” was an indication of the extent to which the issue of child trafficking had occupied the country’s national development agenda.
Child trafficking, she continued, “is one of the worst forms of exploitation, abuse and violence against children.”
In Sierra Leone, Madam Parker explained “there have been indications that children are being trafficked both within the country, usually from rural to urban areas, as well as across borders”.
These children, she said, “are being exposed to a range of exploitative practices which include child labour; sexual exploitation; military conscription; early marriage and illicit adoption.”
Alison Parker called for the improvement of legal and policy framework for protection of all children, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with special focus on laws that are protective for orphans and vulnerable children.
Speaking on behalf of the Global Movement for Children and Child trafficking, the director of Plan-Sierra Leone, Sadimata Alainthar averred in her statement that this year’s theme “…is apt at this present time as it coincides with the enactment of the Children’s Act.”
She stated that although, very little information or data was available at national level on the scale of child trafficking in Sierra Leone, “we are all aware that children are used in farms, in the mining areas, as fishermen in costal communities; used as beggars or to accompany beggars etc”
She maintained that, “transfer of children whether voluntarily or by coercion is a great injustice to children whose trust in care givers is abused.”
The programme was climaxed by the keynote address of the minister of gender and children’s affair, Shirley Gbujama..
In her addressed, she advised the children to be obedient and more responsible now that the Child Rights Bill had been passed by parliament, noting that “to every right there is a responsibility”.