By Elias Hakizimana.
World Vision Rwanda jointly with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) and the National Commission of Children (NCC), will launch a new advocacy campaign calling all Rwandans to join hands in the fight to eliminate the two worst forms of violence against children in Rwanda –child labour and sexual abuse.
The event will take place in Kigali on Thursday, July 19, 2018 at the Serena Hotel in Kigali.
The official campaign launch event will be fronted by Hon. Espérance Nyirasafari, the Minister of MIGEPROF and Peter H. Vrooman, the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda.
Several participants from governments, civil society organisations, interfaith groups, United Nations agencies, the private sector and other stakeholders are expected to attend the event.
This advocacy campaign, whose official name is the ‘It Takes every Rwandan to End Child Exploitation’ Campaign’ will be a five-year campaign aimed at bringing different actors together to relentlessly advocate for an end to child labour and sexual abuse; to highlight this violence when it occurs and hold those responsible to account, and to work with victims to make their stories and voices heard.
Child labour is a crime that interferes with children’s ability to lead a normal life because it involves work that is mentally, physically, socially and morally dangerous and harmful to them. Even worse than it, is child sexual abuse; which leaves young girls and boys forever scarred physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
Progress and gaps
The Government of Rwanda has, for many years, been implementing different initiatives to promote child rights and protection and the achievements have been quite remarkable. In fact, since 2016, more than 8300 children have been rescued from child labour and brought back to school while 98.9% of reported child defilement cases were handled by courts between June 2017 and July 2018.
However, despite all the efforts and achievements, a number of Rwandan children sadly still face violence.
The percentage of working children of 14 to 17 years old was 30.7%, almost half of them working with pay in an employment activity (According to labour-force survey-pilot, NISR, 2016). 29% of the total number of children in Rwanda aged between 5 and 14 years old had been victims of child labour at the time of UNICEF’s release of their State of the World’s Children 2016 Report: ‘A fair chance for every child’.
Findings in the Ministry of Health’s 2017 Violence against Children and Youth Survey established that among females with experiences of unwanted completed sex in childhood, 48 percent of those aged 18-24 and 51 percent of those aged 19-24 reported pregnancy as a result.
In the latter report, 83% of females aged 18-24 who had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 had abandoned school as a consequence. In total, more than quarter of a million children are victims of child labour and sexual abuse in Rwanda.
The forthcoming campaign’s overall goal is to contribute to increased protection of children from child labour and sexual abuse by 2022. It aligns with and contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to “End the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.”
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