Children have called for an end to child labour and respect for their rights.
The call was made on Monday during the World Children’s Day celebrations that were held in Rubavu District.
Through a series of drama skits, poems, songs and speeches, the children, among other things, apportioned blame on their parents for pushing them out of school, involving them in a variety of child labour activities like deploying them in tea harvesting, carrying bricks and tasking them to gather firewood, instead of providing them with all needs to ensure they grow in a conducive and stimulating environment.
The children did not spare some local leaders for not bringing their parents to book whenever such incidences are reported.
Orse Rugero, the children representative in Rubavu, said it is not fair for parents to subject children to heavy physical work, and for local leaders to fail to be watchdog over their rights.
“Parents are involving children in activities that are beyond their physical capacity. We believe the local government is going to take a tough stance against parents who keep violating children’s rights; we need this to end as soon as possible so children enjoy their lives,” he said.
Marie Grace Uwampayizina, the vice-mayor of Rubavu District in charge of social affairs, cautioned parents to take good care of their children instead of pushing them in child labor, warning that government will take tight punitive actions against parents who insist on abusing children.
“Children’s rights are under serious threat. Some parents do not care if children are going to school or not. They need to keep in mind that children have a right to access to education, entertainment and food security, among others,” she said.
“Parents should hear out their children carefully and prepare them into future leaders and decision-makers for the country. This Day should be an opportunity to interact with parents and discuss what is best for their children and this should be everyone’s responsibility. If not, the law is there to hold accountable those who keep insisting on abusing children’s rights,” added Uwampayizina.
Some parents admitted to involving children in certain activities that go against their rights, but promised to change this negative behaviour.
“We shall change our attitude towards child rights protection, especially after listening to our children’s complaints. We are going to make a difference because we no longer want to see them be victims of the past,” said Desire Hakizimana, a parent from Nyundo Sector.
The World Children’s Day is celebrated worldwide on November 20 every year. The theme of this year was, ‘Kid Take Over’, to which Justin Rutayisire, the Communication for Development at UNICEF-Rwanda, said children’s rights should be prioritised in the communities for a better future.