Improving Human Rights For Children In Africa

Feb 21, 2018 by

Basic human rights for children globally should include sanitation, clean water, and basic education. Unfortunately, this does not always happen in Africa and many children are affected by different types of abuse and neglect. They often come from very poor families and suffer sexual exploitation, gender discrimination and have little or no access to education and health care.

Early marriage can affect a child badly, as can having to live on the streets and beg for food. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of children under the age of 14 work which is the highest rate of child labour in the world. Then there are the ones that are affected by armed conflicts.

The Children’s Charter

To give the Children’s Charter its full name, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child was adopted and implemented by the African Union in 1990. It defines a child as someone less than 18 years of age and it says that they should have a position of privilege in African society. It aims to allow all children to enjoy the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, their own thoughts and conscience and religion. It wants children protected from all forms of exploitation, sexual or otherwise. It also wants to protect their education, social, mental, spiritual and moral well being and development.

The Hurdles The Children Charter Faces

One of the biggest hurdles the Children’s Charter faces are beliefs, customs, traditions and practices that are strongly ingrained into the culture in some parts of African society, particularly in outlying and remote villages. These more remote areas are much less likely to be democratic, which could factor into why the Childrens Charter may go ignored – a study from SOAS University shows a clear correlation between low levels of democracy, and abuse of human rights and flouting of laws, particularly against the LGBT community.

Basic respect for each other and how we treat other people all come with education, but as many families cannot afford to send their children to school, they are either sent to work or married off very young.

Parents need educating as well. They need to be taught that the only way out of the poverty trap is for their children to be better educated than they were, and that applies to both boys and girls. The Children’s Charter promotes affirmative action for girl’s education and says they should be allowed to return to school after a pregnancy.

The Ability To Complain

The fundamental guiding principles of the Children’s Charter are that everything should be in the child’s best interest. There should be no discrimination or anything to impede the life, survival, or development of any child. The charter also says that a method will be put in place for the children themselves to petition the Children’s Charter Committee of Experts if they feel their rights are being violated in any way.

In theory, this all sounds wonderful, but in practice, it is taking longer to implement than was originally hoped. Progress is being made though, and hopefully, soon all children globally will have basic human rights, including the ones in Africa.

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