16 JUNE 2014, BANGKOK, THAILAND: ECPAT International calls for strengthened collaboration and coordination of stakeholders in boosting access to education for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Africa, as the continent observes the Day of the African Child, today.
The Day of African Child presents an opportunity for all stakeholders on the rights of children to reflect on issues affecting children in the region. ECPAT International welcomes the theme of the Day of African Child 2014, “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa" that was deliberated and adopted by The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
ECPAT International believes that the fulfilment of children’s rights to education is critically linked to the continent’s development, a tool for the empowerment of children and youth. In 2010, the African Union’s report on the State of Africa’s Children noted that education in most African countries was characterised by poor completion rates, high withdrawal rates, poor indicators for secondary education, and poor continental commitments to pre-primary education. The Sub-Saharan region of Africa still has the highest number of out-of-school children. It is believed that access to education is particularly lacking for children with disabilities, marginalised children, as well as victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Africa.
There are as many as 1.8 million children exploited in prostitution or other forms of commercial sexual exploitation worldwide. It is believed that nearly 80% of all trafficking worldwide is for sexual exploitation, with over 20% of the victims being children. There are also millions of child sexual abuse images on the Internet and that number is growing every day.
ECPAT urges all stakeholders to allow Africa’s children the right to education, including those in situations of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, trafficked children, children living on the streets, children forced into situations of early marriage, and children without access to justice. They are the children most often forgotten in our quest to achieve global goals.
ECPAT International is committed to working with and collaborating with key stakeholders in Africa such as the African Union, ACRWC, child rights organisations and others in promoting the fulfilment of the rights of children in Africa and the world.
ABOUT THE DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD
The Day of the African Child has been celebrated since 1991, on the 16th June, annually. It was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The Day of the African Child honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976. In Soweto, South Africa, on 16 June 1976, approximately ten thousand school children marched, protesting against the poor quality of education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young students were shot dead. More than 170 people were killed and more than one thousand were injured during the two-week long protest.
The general objective of the DAC celebrations in 2014 is to call the attention of African governments to their responsibilities in respect of ensuring children’s right to education in accordance with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.