The SOS Children’s Villages, Ghana, is calling for a zero-tolerance for child rights violations in the country.

As the world marks the day of the African Child, the village is urging government to invest more to ensure children in Ghana and Africa as a whole have access to protection, justice and equal opportunity.

The village is alarmed at the levels of poverty, and conflicts in many of the African countries which leaves women and children even more vulnerable.

Under such conditions, the village said the children “cannot grow up to become self-reliant and active citizens.”

In a statement issued Friday, the village also raised issues about defilement which is hampering child development.

 

The full statement is as follows;

As we mark the Day of the African Child, SOS Children’s Villages urges decision-makers to guarantee a Zero-tolerance approach towards child rights violations. SOS Children’s Villages Ghana calls for more investment by governments as duty bearers, to ensure that children in Africa have access to protection, justice and equal opportunity.

The level of poverty, conflicts and injustice in African countries put the future of many children in jeopardy; Children without parental care or at risk of losing it are the most vulnerable and face a heightened risk of violence, abuse, and neglect. With so many challenges, their development is stunted, which hampers their future. They cannot grow up to become self-reliant and active citizens.

According to the 2010 Population Census, Ghana’s population of 24,658,000 has 11,026,524 under 18 year olds. This represents a significant children’s population requiring quality care and protection. Currently 90 percent of boys and girls are enrolled in primary level. Whilst this looks good compared to other Sub-Saharan African countries, it also means 10 percent of children – that’s one child in every ten – is not in primary school. This is a significant proportion of children denied the chance to reach their fullest potential. Recent global data indicates that increasing a country’s average years of schooling by just one year can result in an 18 per cent increase in GDP per capita (UNICEF, 2015).

The term “child labour” refers to children in employment. It is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their education, potential and dignity, and is harmful to their physical and mental development. According to the 2014 Child Labour Report, 21.8 percent of 5-17 year olds were engaged in child labour. It is worrying to see a host of children in this age group in the central business district of Accra working as ‘Kayayei, Shoe Shine Boys, hawkers, etc.

The migration of children to urban areas, because of economic hardship in rural areas often forces children to support themselves to survive. What this means is that, they are effectively missing out on their education, potential and dignity. This has some unfortunate implications as contained in the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey. Under-5 mortality among children born to mothers with no education (92 deaths per 1,000 live births) is higher than children born to mothers with middle/JHS (54 deaths per 1,000 live births). Ensuring that our children are educated will secure the survival of the next generation of Ghanaians.

Another troubling Child Protection issue is the rising incidence of defilement. In 2013, the latest year for which data was available, the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) received 1,228 complaints of suspected child defilement (Ghana Human Rights Report, 2015). This report further dilated on the problem of child marriage, stating that child marriage nationwide was 27 percent in 2011, the latest year for which data was available. Child marriage was most prevalent in Upper East Region (39 percent), Western Region (37 percent), and Upper West Region (36 percent).

It is for these reasons and more that “we call on African Governments and the Government of Ghana in particular to put the inherent rights of children high on their political agenda and take commitment to provide the resources required to support children with quality care and the protection needed for their safety and security as provided by the African Charter of Child Rights. The long term impact of these measures can help address the rising issues of radicalisation, migration and unemployment on the continent and in Ghana for that matter, and thus, help to better provide quality care for our children,” said Mr. Alexander Mar

Kekula – National Director – SOS Children’s Villages Ghana.

As we mark the Day of the African Children, focusing on accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity by 2030, SOS Children’s Villages Ghana will focus on the most vulnerable children who are at the heart of our Strategy 2030, with the central message: ‘No child should grow up alone’. The strategy directly relates to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in key areas such as poverty, inequality, education, health, social and child safeguarding, and decent work.

“To make the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 a reality, scaling-up access to education, health care and equal opportunity cannot wait. More importantly, we need to invest in children today, if they are counted, we can know how many of them are most vulnerable and at risk,” says Mr. Alexander Mar Kekula. “Every African child deserves quality care and to grow up in a safe environment.”

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