By Alhagie Sora
Female Lawyers Association of the Gambia (FLAG) with funding from the Canadian Embassy in Dakar has recently conducted the sensitisation of one hundred students (100) on the Children’s Act of 2005 and Sexual Offences Act of 2010 at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.The aim of the sensitisation, according to organisers, is to enhance the total involvement of children and to also expose them to different laws that exist to protect the female child from all forms of exploitation.
In her opening remarks, Lawyer Neneh Cham, the president of FLAG, thanked the Canadian Embassy for funding the initiative.
The topics to be dealt with in the training, she said, include early and force marriages and the Sexual Offences Act. She added that these are issues that need urgent attention as children should be reached early so that they can benefit from the most important issues affecting the lives of children.
She said they involve the young people particular the school children who are the most vulnerable.
The FLAG President said early and forced marriage is a form of sexual violence against the girl child and that this is why they have targeted 100 school children from ten different schools across the country to capacitise them on these important issues.
She said the rights and protection of the child is a major concern and are guaranteed in various major international instruments and many of which Gambia had already ratified.
Madam Cham said Gambia has not only ratified but has gone further to domesticating in the form of the Children’s Act and the Children’s Court which is also established in some regions and municipality such as Kanifing, Brikama and Basse.
She cited the UN Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, African Charter on the Welfare of the Child among the many other international laws and instruments that protect the rights of the child.
Lawyer Cham said the training will also touch on such issues as the prohibition of all forms of violence against children, harmful traditional practices, FGM which have very serious and devastating consequence on children.
Mr. Filli Nyassi, representing the Director of Social Welfare, described the sensitization on the Children’s Act of 2005 and Sexual Offence Act of 2010 as a step in the right direction.
He commended the UN system for their efforts in helping in many forms to ensure the full protection of children from all forms of violence.
He said that his department in collaboration with UNICEF has set up the community child protection committee with the purpose of serving as agent of change in the society. He said the committee will also promote positive values and report on any case to the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.
For his part, Mr. Ebrima Sisawo, the deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, representing the permanent secretary, described the training as timely as it is coming at a time when his ministry is about to review the curriculum.
By Alhagie Sora