Liberia: Girls Get Equal-Liberia Wants Parents to Discourage Early Marriage in Observance of International Day of the African Child

Todee District, Montserrado County - Girls Get Equal-Liberia (GGE) joined the rest of Africa in celebration of the International Day of the African Child, calling on parents, religious and traditional leaders, government and stakeholders to disband the practice of early marriage.

The celebration was held in Todee, rural Montserrado amongst three schools, namely the Presbyterian Todee Mission High School, Todee Wesleyan Institute and Nuquay Public School, and was attended by representatives of the District #1, Rep. Lawrence Morris' office, District Educational officer, students, religious and traditional leaders.

The day which is set aside by the United Nations to celebrate African children on the 16 of June every year, was held under the theme: "Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practices Since 2013".

Speaking at the program, the Team Leader of GGE, Faith C. Smith, said children have been affected by harmful practices, among which are, Female genital mutilation (FGM) and early child marriage.

According to Miss. Smith, these harmful practices which are highly practiced in rural Liberia are a serious threat to the lives of children.

She noted that the government must truly promote and protect the rights of children.

Said Miss. Smith, "Today, we celebrate this day when most children right now are even being abused and violated. The problem of Liberian children goes far beyond just the poor quality of their education to the high increase of violence perpetrated against them."

"Government celebrates this day by bringing together a handful of children, leaving out those other kids who are currently between cars selling, those children whom all their lives have never felt the comfort of a class room and paying deaf to our many petitions crying out for justice for that girl who died because she was ganged raped."

"They proudly say 'Happy Day of the African Child to all children of Liberia' when children in Yapass Town, Rivercess county are still sitting on the ground just to learn, when children of rural Montserrado are sleeping under market tables when a girl child lives in fear of being sexually assaulted or raped."

Making a brief remark, one of the participants, Korto F. Kamara of the 11th grade Presbyterian Todee Mission School who received a book bag including books and pens, said that she felt proud to be part of this year's edition of the celebration.

She praised the organization for bring the day of the African child celebration to their and educating on the danger of early child marriage.

While another student, Audrey T.K. Benson- Todee Wesleyan Institute who received similar gesture from the organization, said she hoped the next celebration should be held in Todee as it gives students and children the opportunity to know about their right in society.

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