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Concerted effort needed in protecting our children

Jan 23, 2015, 10:07 AM

Child Protection Alliance (CPA), Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and the Gambia Tourism Board have just tabled an essential report at a recent workshop on sharing of research findings on Child Sex Tourism in The Gambia.

And the Minister of Tourism and Culture, who made a profound remark on that occasion, called for more commitment to Preventing Child Sex Tourism in The Gambia.

While tourism is a great pillar of our economy with lots of benefits to the country, especially in respect of employment and its contribution to the GDP of the nation, it also has some ‘side effects’ such as child sex tourism.

A concerted effort is, therefore, needed to protect our children from the instrument of abuse, including Child Sex Tourism.

This makes it essential for all and sundry to come together to implement the necessary programmes and measures to address the menace of child sex tourism, and other abuses of our future leaders and national caretakers.

Parents, teachers, hotel managers, prosecutors, drivers, security officers are all called upon to shy away from being indifferent to the plight and welfare of a child because he or she is not directly yours.

Rather, all should show concern and help in the protection of the children in the country.

The abuse of children in whatever form saps the health and ego of our children, destroys the growth, development and future of our nation, as well as demoralizes our society.

All should put our hands on deck to protect our children from abuse, to nurture their growth and development.

The government has done a lot in protecting the right of the child in The Gambia, as well as in combating child sex tourism, which includes enactment of the Tourism Offences Act and the institutionalization of a security unit for tourism purposes.

However, there is room for more improvement, as in the word of some child rights activists.

For whilst the country is making great progress as a nation in fulfilling the rights of children, the findings in the UNICEF-Banjul MICS Report 2010 indicated that we need to do more to improve our birth registration rate for under-fives, close the gap in gender parity at the senior school secondary level, increase tremendously the consumption of iodised salt by households, encourage positive parenting to prevent violence against children, and accelerate our efforts towards the legal prohibition of harmful traditional practices against children, including child marriage and FGM.

Prevention of child sex tourism is not an easy goal to achieve, as the Tourism minister righty noted.

Combating child sex tourism, therefore, calls for commitment, sincerity, resources, political will, social policing, awareness creation; and it is a collective responsibility.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass