Gender Gender

Recognising, protecting children’s rights

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YESTERDAY marked the end of 16 Days o f Activism Against Gender-based Violence, which was commemorated from November 25. December 10 is extra special because it coincides with Human Rights Day, which is celebrated internationally every year in honour of December 10, 1948, when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris after the terrible experiences of the Second World War, during which the rights of a huge number of citizens of the world were trampled upon by those who felt they could.
It is under this declaration that the rights of children are enshrined. These rights include, among many others, the right to associate with both parents, human identity, the provision of basic needs for physical protection, food, universal education, health care, and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child’s civil rights and freedoms.
It is a fact that some children do not enjoy these rights even though they are entitled to them by virtue of being human beings.
For example, six-year-old Sam has had developmental issues from the time he was a toddler but his mother has been unable to get him the medical intervention he requires to help him lead as normal a life as possible.
As a result of his condition, whenever Sam’s mother has some chores to perform or errands to run, she has to lock him up because no one is willing to help take care of him in her absence.
Sam’s mother has tried to seek medical help for the little boy but has no success. She explained that for the past two months she has been sent back and forth between four health facilities within Lusaka, and to her disappointment, her son has never been examined to ascertain what his problem might be.
She narrated how at one facility she was sent back home in spite of pleading to have her son examined after having waited for the month-long appointment.
The young mother is now at her wits’ end; she does not know where to turn to because each time she tries to look for help for her son, it is as if she is hitting into a brick wall. To make things worse, her husband is unwilling to assist her take care of the boy. She has even contemplated taking Sam to an orphanage where she thinks he’ll be better off as he will be provided with his basic needs that include the right to health, which he desperately requires at the moment if he is to enjoy a decent quality of life as he grows.
Even as Zambia joins the rest of the world in celebrating the end of the 16 days of gender activism and Human Rights Day, it is important to remember children like Sam and many others who do not have the chance to enjoy their God-given rights for various reasons.
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.
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