Culture, belief must not override children’s rights, Gombe clergyman advises stakeholders
As Gombe state House of Assembly prepare for a public hearing on the domestication of the Child Rights Act (CRA) in the state, Rev. Gaius Isuwa Bangus, a clergyman from Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA 1), Talasse community in Balanga Local Government Area of Gombe state on Tuesday advised stakeholders not to allow culture and belief override the rights of children in the state.
Bangus while appealing to stakeholders said the domestication of the Child Rights Act (CRA) remained the only option to better protect children and ensure a bright future for them.
The clergyman gave the advice in Gombe during a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on CRA in Gombe with religious and traditional leaders from the 11 Local Government Areas of Gombe state as participants.
The meeting was sponsored by Save the Children International.
According to him, culture which is one of the major issues against the domestication of CRA should not be allowed to override the rights of children.
He added “it is the right of every child boy or girl to get education and enjoy parenthood; so we must give them that right and protect them,” he said.
“The issues delaying the domestication of the CRA in Gombe must be addressed to ensure that further damage was not done to our children beyond what we have on the ground especially with the alarming cases of rape and other forms of child abuses going on unreported across the state.’’
He said the increasing rape cases being perpetrated against children was “one threat too many” that needed “quick” actions in the interest of children of the state.
“ I support the speedy passage and domestication of the CRA because we need the law to protect children and punish perpetrators, else we may not sleep in the near future,” he cautioned.
Similarly, officials of Save the Children International and some religious leaders in Gombe state also harped on the need for speedy domestication of the Child Rights Act (CRA) to ensure justice for children whose rights are being violated in the state.
In her opening remarks, Ms Altine Lewi, the Project Manager, SCI, Gombe State, said the domestication of CRA in the state would guarantee the protection of children in the state.
According to Lewi, children who are being violated have not been given justice as most of the perpetrators are often released the same day after arrest.
She said the state needed a law that would make prosecution of all violations of children’s rights possible as well as protect children in the state.
“Today rape is on the increase; examples are not being set to teach perpetrators the needed lessons because there is yet to be a law that will do that,” Lewi said.
She called on the participants to renew awareness in their various communities on the need for people to understand the relevance of CRA to children.
She said, “we must collectively work to make it (domestication of CRA) happen so as to protect children and ensure they get justice whenever they are violated.”
Lewi appealed to participants to help create more awareness on the “overwhelming” advantage of CRA as the State House of Assembly prepared for the public hearing of the bill.
Also, the Interim Manager of Towards Ending Child Marriage (TECM) project of SCI, Mr AkpanEffiong, said efforts were being strengthened to ensure that CRA was domesticated in Gombe state to address the many violations against children especially in recent time.
Effiong appealed to participants to leverage their relationships with critical stakeholders in the state to ensure that the bill became a law to protect children in the state.
Alhaji Sale Danburam, the Secretary of Jama’atuNasril Islam (JNI) said the CRA was not harmful provided the contradictions made during consultations were addressed.
Danburam said if the contradictions had been addressed, “ then it’s high time we concluded the domestication of the CRA in Gombe state.”
Highlights of the meeting included a question and answer sessions as well as presentation on CRA to deepen participants understanding of the bill ahead of public hearing.