By Kebba AF Touray
Members of the National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Women and Children were on 23 – 24 May, 2018 engaged in an advocacy meeting by the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) on Child Rights and Law Review Relating to the Physical and Humiliating Punishment on Children in The Gambia.
“When the child is abused, it is treated as normal, as culture. When the rights of women are violated, it is normal and treated as culture and sometimes as religious, which it is not. But when the rights of men are violated, then it crosses a red line and becomes a human rights abuse. How do we reconcile this contradiction? How do we explain this double standard?” asked Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member for Banjul North and Chairperson of the National Assembly Committee on Women and Children, when declaring the two day event open.
The Chair of the Committee on Women and Children enjoined his National Assembly colleagues to take up the challenge to put an end to the continuous abuse of our children who he described as human beings with “rights and responsibilities.”
Sillah said calling for an end to physical and humiliating punishment of children must not be misconstrued to mean that the child should not be disciplined at all. “What we are saying is that there are other forms of disciplining the child called ‘Positive Disciplining’ which is the alternative for the brutal mishandling and humiliation of the child who equally has rights as everybody else,” he said.
The Chair of the National Assembly Committee on Women and Children assured that the Committee members will be engaging amongst themselves and with other National Assembly Members (NAMs) to consider any review of the laws needing reforms and the enactment of progressive legislation for the protection of the rights of children in this country.
Speaking earlier, Madame Kaddijatou Jallow, representing the National Coordinator of the Child Protection Alliance (CPA), elaborated on the objectives and importance of the two day meeting advocating for the reform of the national laws on children and its harmonization with international conventions.
She called on the Members of the Select Committee on Children and the entire National Assembly to support the cause of children as they are the future of this country and deserve protection from them.
The opening session was chaired by Mr. Lamin Saidy of CPA who thanked the members of the Select Committee on Children and the other invited NAMs for the invitation, to attend the advocacy sessions.
During the course of the sessions, the presenters dealt with modules on the Children’s Act 2005, International Conventions e.g. Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC), National and International Studies or Surveys, Corporal Punishment, Positive Discipline, Role of Legislatives, CSOs, Child Friendly Budgeting, among other issues.
The presenters were Njundu Drammeh, National Coordinator CPA, Lamin Saidy, Amie Jobe, Kaddijatou Jallow and Abdoulie Faye, all from the CPA.
More than 20 NAMs attended together with Subject Matter Specialists and National Assembly Committee Secretaries and Staff.