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 Biden Attends Services at Emanuel AME

Biden said he came to Sunday’s services because he and his family wanted to show solidarity with the families and the church More

Diverse Nation

Here's why minorities could become the US majority sooner than expected More

Rush of Same-Sex Marriages Follows US Supreme Court Ruling

But swift backlash from conservative groups foreshadows battles ahead 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs