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Malawi, 20 November 2014: Children speak out against abuse at Day of Prayer and Action for Child Protection

UNICEF Malawi/2014/Chagara
© UNICEF Malawi/2013/Chagara
Children, government representatives and faith leaders at the Day of Prayer and Action for Children in Nkhata Bay made clear that child abuse is unacceptable.

20 November 2014, NKHATA BAY, Malawi – On the National Day of Prayer and Action for Child Protection, representatives from different faith groups, children’s NGOs and government came together to pledge action on violence against children.

Robert Ngaiyaye, Executive Director of the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association (MIAA) said at this occasion:

“Violence against children is too common a sight and experience in this country. That is why we need this new partnership, bringing together different players to make a change for children. We are calling on people of all faiths, to recognize that according to our culture and religious beliefs, there is no place for violence against our most precious citizens. Faith Leaders Say NO to Violence against Children”

Several key elements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child reflect values shared with the world’s major religious traditions. Religious communities are thus uniquely positioned to promote equitable outcomes for the most vulnerable children and families. Their moral influence and extensive networks give them access to the most disenfranchised and deprived groups, those that international organizations and governments are sometimes less able to reach effectively.

Children were well-represented at the event, and they played a key role in speaking out against early marriages, corporal punishment in schools, child labour and sexual abuse. This strong message was highly necessary, as two out of three Malawians experience violence during childhood. An 18-year-old girl in Malawi has 50% chance to be married, and 20% chance of having suffered sexual abuse. Moreover, one in four children is involved in child labour. The children at the function encouraged parents and traditional leaders to end harmful cultural practices and to send their children to school, and raise them with love, without abuse.

More than 3 million children in Malawi grow up in violent homes, as was emphasized by Fred Movete, District Commissioner for Nkhata Bay. He closed the function by expressing his commitment to change the way these children are treated: “Passion comes with proven action. After these prayers, there should be action, and not business as usual. This day should be an ongoing event on a daily basis. Every day, we have to make sure that children are not abused”.

Faith leaders are encouraged to further oppose all forms of child abuse in their community. To support them in this task, MIAA and UNICEF produced a Religious Leaders’ Manual, which is expected to be used in diverse ways and fora. The manual can help mainstream child protection in worship services, workshops in churches and mosques, and in training centres for religious leaders. 

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About the Day of Prayer for Child Protection: The Day of Prayer for Child Protection came into being subsequent to the launch of a child protection programme in October. UNICEF, in partnership with the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association (MIAA) introduced this programme under the theme: “Practice your faith, Protect Children”. The programme is being funded by the UK government.

 

 
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