Dec 30, 2009, 2:44 PM
The Child Protection Alliance (CPA) yesterday organised a two day sensitization workshop for 20 religious leaders on child rights and child protection especially on sexual abuse and exploitation.
The training held at the KMC multipurpose centre in Kanifing, brought together religious leaders in the Greater Banjul Area and West Coast Region.
It was funded by the British High Commission as part of a D250, 000 project to raise awareness on child protection issues.
The workshop forms part of wider project that will also seek to equip law enforcers and social workers in the Gambia with the skills to promote the rights of children who would be at risk from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Speaking at the ceremony George Sherriff, UK deputy High Commissioner told the gathering that the aim is to create a more protective environment for the children in our communities and across the Gambia.
He explained that every child has a right to live free life from exploitation from those that protect them, nothing that this exploitation can come in many forms one of the most abhorrent of which is the sexual exploitation of children.
“In the Gambia, as it does elsewhere in the world, it happened here, it happens in the family, it happens in communities and those that perpetrate it are Gambians and non Gambians,” he said, adding that it is the responsibility of all to ensure that not only do we identify it, and report it, but to sensitize others to play a more proactive role in counting it out.
According to him, as religious and community leaders, the participants have a history of being some of the greatest advocates promoting the needs and wellbeing of those in their communities.
“As leaders in your community, you can influence thinking, foster dialogue, shape social values and promote responsible behaviors,” the British diplomat stated.
According to him, the instinct to care for children comes from deep within the teachings and spiritual vision of all religious traditions, which motivates people of faith to make the commitment to take practical actions for children.
Fulfilling these commitments, he noted, requires the collaborations of religious communities with each other, and with other partners because these challenges cut across all religions and are too great for any one group to handle alone.
Noting that the promotion and protection of the rights of the child is a priority for the UK Government, Sheriff said the British High Commission is pleased to partner with such an effective and passionate organization such as Child Protection Alliance supported by its partner organisations across the Gambia.
For his part, Oustass Sherrif Badjan of the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council underscored the importance of protecting and promoting the welfare of children, noting that having a good foundation for children is a key responsibility for every parent.
He described parents as duty bearers and urged them to play their role and ensure that children adopt good habits.
Christopher Manley of the Gambia Christian Council expressed gratitude to the organizes for involving them in a concrete way in this year special mission of raising awareness, building capacity, advocating and lobbying for an enabling environment for the protection of children in the Gambia.