Safe Child Celebrates the International Day of the African Child (1)

Combating Customs and Harmful Practices to Children and Negative Social Norms”

Report By: Haffiya Abdalla

Photography: Mosaab Hassouna

International Day of the African Child takes place on June 16, 2022. The Day of the African Child has been celebrated every year since 1991 when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

In Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, about ten thousand black school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their language. Hundreds of young students were shot, the most famous of which being Hector Peterson. More than a hundred people were killed in the protests of the following two weeks, and more than a thousand were injured.

“Journalists for Children”, the “Safe Child Organization”, in partnership with Plan International, Sudan, celebrated the Day of the African Child, and organized a workshop for children under the slogan ” combating customs and harmful practices to children and negative social norms”.

The celebration of the Day of the African Child, 2022 contains many programs and activities in cooperation with the Forum of Civil Society Organizations, under the umbrella of the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW).

Executive Director of Journalists for Children, Inaam Mohamed Al-Tayeb, saluted the children of Sudan, the world and Africa, for their day.

She said that the association works to spread the child’s culture and download laws and legislations on the ground. The association educates children about their rights and advocates for them.

Roquia Omar, the Training and Awareness Officer at Safe Child, stressed the importance of educating children about all their basic rights guaranteed according to international laws and legislation.

Nahed Ali Awad Al-Sayed from Plan International praised the efforts made by Journalists for Children in the field of advocacy and awareness-raising to obtain rights.

She said that the association is a key partner of the Plan Sudan Organization. “We want to learn from children, listen to them, and know what they want “.

According to a joint Press Release issued in 2021, on the occasion of the Day of the African Child, child rights and child-focused agencies- Save the Children International; Plan International; World Vision International; UNICEF called for more to be done to actualize laws and policies that are meant to protect children.

In 2020, the Transitional Government of Sudan lifted three reservations previously placed in the Charter, concerning children’s privacy, child marriage, and pregnant girls’ continuation of education.

In addition, Article 141 was passed in the Sudanese Criminal Law by Sudan’s Transitional Government, effectively criminalizing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). This landmark decision was welcomed and celebrated across Sudan and beyond as a truly significant milestone in further promoting the rights and well-being of girls and women in Sudan.

“We must urgently build on this momentum to legally protect the lives of millions of girls still at risk of this violation in Sudan “.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that FGM/C practice is now criminalized and penalized under the new law, it is still commonly practiced in Sudan, as witnessed by Save the Children International, UNICEF, Plan International, and World Vision in the communities where we work. Available data shows that 87% of Sudanese girls and/or women aged between 14 and 49 have already undergone some form of FGM/C, 32% of girls under the age of 14 are affected, and girls under 10 are at risk.

As child rights and child-focused organizations, we remain unrelenting in our commitment to supporting and advocating for efforts that support the rights and well-being of children and continue to encourage and work with all duty bearers – at the national and grassroots level to ensure positive engagement and protection of children.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the ongoing promising steps being taken towards the elimination of FGM/C in Sudan in addition to its criminalization. This year, for example, the Sudanese Council of Ministers approved the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which states under Article 5 the elimination of all harmful practices, covering essential areas such as public awareness, legal action, support to victims and protection of women at risk “.

All these are steps in a positive direction that can and should result in a better and healthier future for children in Sudan. They should encourage the development of better policies and strategies and ensure that more action is taken to stop the practice of FGM/C which is a grave violation and has severe physical, psychological, sexual, and reproductive health effects on girls and women at different stages of their lives.

It is worth noting that the Safe child nonprofit organization previously known as no to silence started as a volunteer-led initiative, aiming at breaking the silence barrier and raising community awareness regarding child sexual abuse in Sudan. The organization currently carries out its community awareness programs through two pillars. The first pillar is focused on preventative methods, which take place through seminars and workshops in schools, mosques, community centers, etc. The programs aim to educate community members and bring attention to some of the dire issues regarding children. Specific programs are directed towards women and children but the overall aim is to keep society members involved and aware of issues regarding children in our society. The second pillar is focused on protective methods through providing free legal and therapeutic aid for victims of child abuse.

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