THE government, human rights activists and other interested groups have on various occasions been raising public awareness on the protection of children, especially girl children, who because of some reasons, are at a great disadvantage compared to boys.
The Law of the Child Act, 2009 provides for the rights and welfare of all children and prohibits discrimination against children on the basis of gender, race, age, religion, language, political opinion, disability, health status, custom, ethnic origin, rural or urban setting, birth, socioeconomic status, being a refugee or of any other status.
Tanzania has enacted the Law of the Child Act, 2009 to stipulate the rights of the child and promote, protect and maintain the welfare of children to give effect to regional and international human rights instruments the country is a party to.
Yet, in practice things seem to be different. Girl children, in particular, drop out of school due to early pregnancy or marriage.
In some regions, where female genital mutilation (FGM) is still secretly practised, they are forced to undergo the degrading and painful ritual. When we talk about the child we mean any person under 18 years old.
This means society as general must protect the rights of children, especially girl children, so that they too may explore their potential, exploit it and make their future brilliant for them.
This is what we wish to happen to all children. It was against this background that Prime Minister Kassim Maj aliwa on Monday expressed concern about the incidence of girl student pregnancy as 74 schoolgirls had dropped out of school due to pregnancy from January to September in Nyang’wale District, Geita Region, alone.
He said there was no reason for a girl student to absent oneself from school, while the government was providing 23.8bn/- every month to cover education costs in both primary and secondary schools.
What comes to our mind, therefore, is that the protection of children, particularly girl children needs the involvement of all members of society.
We cannot leave this responsibility to the government, human rights activists and interested groups alone. If we are all involved in the protection of children or girl children in particular, it means we will take necessary steps to protect them whenever we see that their rights are about to be or are violated.
If we really did, we would have reduced early pregnancy or marriage or even school dropout to a considerable extent. The fact that there is still early pregnancy or marriage, school dropout or child abuse, means we haven’t played our part enough.
That is why we think it is good to remind one another that we have the responsibility of protecting the right and welfare of all children and in so doing we prepare them to be responsible adults and law-abiding citizens.
So, let’s play our part in the protection of children’s rights and welfare.