The Participatory Action for Rural Development Alternatives (PARDA), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), has called on stakeholders to stop interfering in issues of child abuse and allow the law to deal with perpetrators.
The NGO condemned situations where some influential personalities in society meddled in cases of child abuse in communities, which affected the effective operations of state institutions mandated to protect children.
“We want to call on Chiefs, Assembly members, Queen mothers and other influential personalities to stop interfering in the work of state institutions when children are abused and the law is activated,” Dr Michael Wombeogo, the Executive Director of PARDA said.
“Opinion leaders should rather support state institutions such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Ghana Police Service and other relevant institutions to bring perpetrators of crime against children to book,” he added.
Dr Wombeogo in an address delivered on his behalf at a District child protection forum at Chiana in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region, organized by PARDA, said if opinion leaders stopped unnecessary interferences, perpetrators would be deterred from abusing children, especially in rural communities.
The forum, with support from Children Believe (CB), a child-focus NGO, brought together stakeholders and pupils from some selected schools across the Builsa North Municipality and the Kassena-Nankana West District together on the theme: “Reducing teenage pregnancy, the role of child protection Agencies.”
Dr Wombeogo said as part of the Builsa-Kassena-Nankana Child Development programme, PARDA, with the support of CB, formed the “Child Friendly Accountability Mechanism” (CFAM) clubs in schools across the Municipality and District to build the capacity of pupils on child protection and various forms of abuses.
“So, within the clubs, the pupils can protect themselves from all forms of abuses both in school and in the communities. We formed Community Child Protection Committees, built their capacities and organised durbars to sensitize community members on child protection issues,” he said.
Mrs Esenam Kavi De Souza, the Associate Country Director of CB in a speech read on her behalf, said children had inherent and universal right to life free from violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect, and to survival and development.
She said the estimated total number of children in Ghana who had been physically or emotionally abused was 3.4 million, adding that the short-term consequences of the abuses were medical issues, and the need for social welfare interventions, while the long-term consequences were compromised physical health, absence at school and psychological impact on the child.
Mrs De Souza said CB had assisted the Department of Children to form and inaugurate District Child Protection Teams and supported communities to form and inaugurate Community Child Protection Teams.
“Even with this, there are still challenges to the full performance of these teams. We wish to encourage all stakeholders to come on board to help these teams work to their full capacity.” she said.
Ms Justina Gaase, a pupil of the Chuchuliga Junior High School, who read a speech on behalf of her colleagues, called on parents to show them love, care and understanding, so that they would not be lured by men to destroy their future.
“Teach me the right path to go by giving me the right information and redirect me when I stray. Role models open your arms so widely to embrace me and let the words of your mouth that is a lamp unto my feet, direct me to achieve my dreams,” she said.