News / Africa

Activists Demand More Protection for African Children

Pupils attend a koranic school in the town of Small Sefoda in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012.Pupils attend a koranic school in the town of Small Sefoda in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012.
x
Pupils attend a koranic school in the town of Small Sefoda in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012.
Pupils attend a koranic school in the town of Small Sefoda in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - People across Africa have been celebrating the Day of the African Child, honoring thousands of black South African schoolchildren who took to the streets of Soweto on June 16, 1976, to demand better education and the right to be taught in their own language. The apartheid regime's security forces responded with tear gas and live bullets that killed scores of boys and girls - probably close to 200. June 16 observances still honor those who died, but also highlight the struggles that many African children still face today.

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, a group called the Girl Child Network marked the day with a rally.
 
Close to 100 schoolgirls sang "Parents: Protect your girls and keep them in schools!" as they marched through the chaotic streets of  Freetown.

They wanted their voices heard loud and clear on this Day of the African Child.

 Ayesha Munu, 14, took the time to remember what happened in 1976.

"I feel very sad - every day, every year - when  I think of June 16th," Ayesha said. "A day like this is going to be a day for us to remember what [those who died in 1976] went through, so that we can strengthen ourselves to fight for them more and more every day."

International Day of the African Child Festival 2012 Teaser from Hannah Peterson on Vimeo.


Anita Koroma, country director for the Girl Child Network, organized the rally. The group helps girls complete their education or get out of sexually abusive situations.

Koroma said Girl Child Network wants to focus on raising awareness of the sexual exploitation of young girls in Sierra Leone during the rally.

Koroma wants stricter laws, as in some other African countries, with longer jail time for rape and more monitoring of nightclubs, to make sure girls under 18 are  not  admitted.

"Ghana has done it. Liberia has done it. Sierra Leone needs to wake up from its slumber," she said.

Koroma has worked with about 3,000  girls in her network, and says approximately 60 percent of girls in Sierra Leone have faced some kind of sexual  exploitation.

A 13-year-old girl who was at the rally, but cannot be named, says her uncle's friend attempted to sexually assault her. She is too ashamed to tell her family.

"I don't even tell my uncle. My uncle will say I'm telling lies," she said.

 Koroma said sadly, it is far too common that young girls are afraid to speak up. It's even worse for those who are disabled, she added.

The theme this year for the Day of the African Child is focusing on children with disabilities.
 
"For the disabled girls. Nobody speaks about them, but them, too, they're suffering," noted Koroma. "They need a voice. Girls as young as 11 or 12 ... are exploited."

People are starting to pay attention and show support.

Joseph Kobba, a teacher at a secondary school in Freetown, came out to participate in the rally because he, too, has concerns about young girls being taken advantage of.
 
"Because of their socioeconomic background, these girls cannot afford to maintain themselves in school," he explained. "So these guys up and pay their [school] fees. Some give  [the girls] lunch, and before you know it they get pregnant."

Anita Koroma plans to petition the government of Sierra Leone for stricter laws to break what she calls "the vicious circle of abuse of girls."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Diana Pullin. from: United Kingdom
June 19, 2012 5:12 AM
I will never forget the Soweto Massacre. When will the cycle of 'man's inhumanity to mankind and other species' be broken? Children do not ask to be born. Let's pray for human consciousness to be increased so rapidly that all cruelty and abuse will be a thing of the past; let compassion prevail. UBUNTU.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs