Liberia: Gbowee Peace Foundation Plans To Educate Parents On The Child Rights Act

Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee is the founder of the Gbowee Peace Foundation

Monrovia – The Gbowee Peace Foundation (GPF) Executive Director, Mrs. Lovette Tucker, is urging the main stakeholders looking into the More Than Me (MTM) debacle to do so holistically.

Report by Mae Azango [email protected]

According to Mrs. Tucker, GPF wants government’s agencies responsible to carry this message that there are rules already in place for parents to know, so that when they are taking their child or children to a school, they should not just look at the prettiness of the building, but they should ask questions as to what goes on in the building.

As pressure mounts on the government over the MTM alleged rape saga, many individuals and rights groups have condemned the institution. This has led women marching in protest demanding justice for the alleged rape victims.

There are reports that MTM co-founder, McIntosh Johnson, deceased, had raped some of the teenagers as young as 10, who were placed in the academy’s care for education and protection.

“Our children are dying because of these barbaric acts of rape and molestation; we do not care. We need to change the focus from just being about a person to everybody.

This is why we at Gbowee Peace Foundation will start by working on radio programs to help educate parents on the child rights act and child alternative care act,” Mrs. Tucker said over the weekend at their Congotown offices.

Also speaking, Julian Harmon, GPF Program Assistant, said those providing care for children should take note of the child rights act and the alternative care, because there are many laws to guide people in taking care of children.

“There are laws that need to be enforced; many people do not know of these laws so they take advantage of the situation and harm children in their care. Many people who employ social workers do not vet them to know their backgrounds as to whether they have a record of rape or child molestation,” said Ms. Harmon.

GPF, established by Nobel Peace laureate Laymah Gbowee, caters to the education of girls, especially less fortunate ones.

The Foundation’s Program Manager, Mr. David Konneh, stressed that Liberian government agencies having oversight should do all to constantly employ monitoring mechanisms over institutions having responsibility of children.

“As we are surrounded by poverty, and most of the time people would say, ‘The people are helping us, you people want to spoil our way so people can stop helping us, if you think you know all, what are you doing to help us?’ These are the questions parents would be asking as is now happening with the More Than Me situation,” said Konneh.

The Alternative Care Act 4.11 states the following:

“Recognizing that the majority of children without parental care are looked after informally by relatives or others, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and in partnership with other relevant ministries and institutions will ensure their welfare and protection while in such informal care arrangements, with due respect for cultural, economic, gender and religious differences and practices that do not conflict with the rights and best interests of the child.
4.7. Children must be treated with dignity and respect at all times and must benefit from effective protection from abuse, neglect and all forms of exploitation, whether on the part of care providers, peers, or third parties, in whatever care setting they may find themselves.

4.8. Removal of a child from the care of the family should be seen as a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible duration. Removal decisions should be regularly reviewed and the child’s return to parental care should be assured once the original causes of removal have been resolved or have disappeared.

Alternative care as a last resort

4.9. Financial and material poverty alone, or conditions directly and uniquely imputable to such poverty, should never be a justification for the removal of a child from parental care, for receiving a child into alternative care, or for preventing his/her reintegration, but should be seen as a signal for the need to provide appropriate support to the family.

4.13. No child should be without the support and protection of a legal guardian or other recognized responsible adult at any time.

4.14. The provision of alternative care should never be undertaken with the purpose of furthering the political, religious or economic goals of the providers.”