Judith Mugwaneza, 14, a rural teenager in Gahini Sector of Kayonza district has stepped up efforts to curb children rights violations. Mugwaneza is also a leader of Gahini Sector Children’s Forum said that as a leader, she would take the following steps.
I will take the war directly to parents. They are the root causes of many problems their children encounter. Parents have failed to protect their children from violence, yet it is the most serious problem for rural girls. It varies from sexual and physical abuse, to early marriage, and commercial sexual exploitation.
Teenagers of my age are astonishingly mothers in our communities. Teenage pregnancy is a widespread concern and often begins a cycle of deprivation.
The children of teenage mothers are more likely to be vulnerable because they suffer a greater risk of abuse and neglect too.
The cost of this neglect is high, both for the girls and for society. Whether caused by outright neglect and injustice, or more subtle gender socialisation, the result is the same.
Girls lose their sense of being as they feel incapable of becoming and contributing to society.
The effect is far reaching and that is why parents have got to live to their expectation and protect their children from becoming teenage mothers.
It is also surprising to see that even though the country has set a minimum age in its labour laws, there is little will to enforce them. Rural children are forced by parents to carry heavy things to go and sell in the markets.
This is the parent to blame again. In so many cases children cry in protest when their parents force them to carry the goods.
This is something I will continue to expose and fight.
The most important relationship for all people is that with their parents.
Through this relationship, a child is expected to receive love, support, and learn important values and lessons about life.
Unfortunately, an alarming number of parents do not understand the importance of the parent-child relationship.
My assignment is to make them accept their responsibilities. Many of them laugh me off as a mere kid whenever I put them to task, but in the end they agree with me.
Ultimately, we all suffer from the effects of poor parenting, thus, neglect and abuse are everyone’s problem. I believe that we, as a society, must fulfil the obligations that irresponsible parents cannot.
We can promote the importance of good parenting by supporting nationwide programs to educate parents.
Through educational programs, we can uphold and instil a value system that has been lost, and re-emphasize the importance of good parenting.