Thirty (30) years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child became the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, over half of the world’s children – 1.7 billion – are still experiencing some form of violence every year.
According to UNICEF, Violence against children is all forms of physical, sexual and mental violence, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, harm or abuse, including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour, and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation and child marriage.
Although there have been great improvements in many areas such as education, access to healthcare and clean water, children are still suffering on a daily basis.
Children are being forced to become child soldiers; married off rather than educated; and are being sexually and physically abused.
Cases of child sacrifice and abductions have also continued to grow in Uganda.
A 2018 report conducted by Their World indicates that 650 million girls and women alive today were married before they turned 18 and over 120 million girls – more than 1 in 10 worldwide – will experience rape or sexual abuse before the age of 20.
“This is happening every day. We can no longer show complacency. We have a responsibility to end violence against all children, everywhere. At World Vision we believe children are part of the solution and this is why we invited Maria, 14, from Uganda to speak to EU decision-makers directly”, said Jonathan Beger, EU Advocacy Director of World Vision.
Maria is a Young Leader for Ending Violence Against Children with World Vision.
She has been invited to speak at a High-level conference to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, alongside her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians, the President of the European Parliament, Members of the European Parliament and many others.
“First of all, children are tomorrow’s generation and if their rights are violated, there will be no proper tomorrow” says Maria,.
“For example, if a child is denied a right to education, s/he won’t be able to be somebody in the future because you cannot be somebody unless you study. If I don’t fight acts like sexual violence and child sacrifice, there will come a day when it either happens to me or to any of my sisters or brothers.”
Just like Maria, we call upon all stakeholders “like children, parents, political leaders, teachers, no matter your religion, nation or race to join hands to end violence against children, because it takes a world to end violence against children and the fight begins with me and you.”
The author works with World Vision