In their efforts to make the country a heaven for every child, the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) on Tuesday gathered officials of Civil Society Organisations and those of key government institutions and ministries to discuss corporal punishment of children in all settings.
The Save the Children-funded forum which targeted 25 participants, was held at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA). The forum was in line with CPA’s advocacy campaign for legal reform of physical and humiliating punishment of children in schools and other settings.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Njundu Drammeh, the National Coordinator of CPA, recalled the participants’ mind that on the 21st July 2016 the National Assembly amended the Children’s Act to prohibit child marriage or marriages of boys and girls below the age of 18, saying this was part of CPA’s advocacy plans.
This particular advocacy plan, he said, is to ensure that children are protected from physical and humiliating punishment in all settings.
He affirmed that The Gambia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. “So by its international commitment The Gambia has the obligation as a state party to these instruments to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence including physical and humiliating punishment.
Drammeh continued: “We at CPA and our member organisations are in for discipline of children, we think our children ought to be disciplined but we should also realise that there is a serious distinction between discipline and punishment. Through this discussion we hope to solicit your support in that endeavour so that each and every one of us through our institutions and our individual capacity and initiative would be able to advocate for children and to ensure that children are legally protected against all forms of violence.”
Antoinette Corr Jack, the General Secretary of The Gambia Teachers Union and Chairperson of the CPA Advocacy Taskforce, expressed gratitude to the participants for responding to their call. She emphasised that their attendance is a clear manifestation of the interest they have in the topic they were to discuss.
She was confident the topic was not foreign to any of the participants, saying because physical and humiliating punishment is an everyday thing in homes, communities and even in schools.
by Fatou Sowe