From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani .
The Krontihene of the Sunyani Traditional Area, OboamanBofotiaBoaponsem II, is advocating strong people to manage our institutions.
According to the chief, the argument that we need strong institutions as espoused by ex president Obama is not the best for developing countries.BofotiaBoaponsem said “if we have strong institutions and the managers are weak, the result will still be negative”, adding that leaders must possess strong will to cause lasting positive change at any given chance.
OboamanBofotiaBoaponsem was speaking at a ‘Child Protection Dialogue’ organised by the Child Development Centre of the St. Anselem’s Anglican Church in partnership with Compassion International Ghana in Sunyani.
The Krontihene observed that stakeholders must exhibit strong will in dealing with abuses against children.
“We need strong leaders who can use all the powers given them by the state to protect our children”, he said.
The Child Protection Dialogue drew participants from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAG), the Department of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Domestic Violence & Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), the Department of Social Welfare, the Ghana Beauticians and Hairdressers Association (GHABA) and the media.
BofotiaBoaponsem appreciated the dialogue which he said would help shape decisions on child protection issues.
He further appealed to stakeholders to step up efforts at addressing issues affecting children. “Child abuses must be tackled seriously to ensure their safety”.
The SunyaniKrontihene added that all mandated agencies should strictly apply the laws against people who abuse children.
The Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Children, of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mr. George Yaw Ankamah, said the department has evidence of child abuse, neglect, economic exploitation and sexual exploitation in the region.
He added that child trafficking, abduction/murder for ritual purposes, sexual abuse have also been recorded in the region.The Regional Director therefore called on stakeholders to strictly adhere to the guiding principles for child protection.
The guiding principles, he noted are, on-discrimination, best interest of the child, right to life, survival and development and the respect for the views of the child.According Mr Yaw Ankamah, the categories of rights for children include, Survival and Rights, which are the rights to resources, skills and contributions necessary for the survival of the child, the existence of the means to fulfill the rights and the access to them.
There is also Development Rights, which are rights to resources, skills and contributions necessary for the development of the child.He said the Protection Rights are the rights to protection from all forms of child abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence, the right to special protection in times of war while the Participation Rights are the freedom to express opinions and be heard.
Mr. Yaw Ankamah said the department has a number of programmes that ensure the protection of children.
He said the department supports and engages with traditional processes and community structures at the local level as well as provides prevention and response services.
The department also identifies community members to mentor and provide assistance to children and families; while creating linkages between social welfare and social protection programmes.Others activities include leading initial inquiry into a child protection cases, drawing up agreed plan of action, and ensuring action plan implementation.
The Project Director of the Child Development Centre of the Anglican Church, Samuel BaffourAwuah, said the essence of the dialogue was to draw attention of stakeholders to the numerous challenges facing children in the Sunyani Municipality.
According to Mr. BaffourAwuah, children in Sunyani are abused in several ways, including neglect and sexual abuse.
MrBaffourAwuah said most children suffer neglect by parents and guardians because of poverty. He expressed worry about abuse metted out to children churches in the name of exorcising witchcraft.
According to BaffourAwuah, some latter day churches have been parading children on live TV claiming they are witches and need deliverance.
He said stakeholders must urgently step in to stop the practice since it puts the childrens lives in jeopardy.
MrBaffourAwuah said Sunday Schools must educate children about their rights and report people who abuse them for redress.He appealed to the media not to exaggerate child abuse stories which affects them psychologically.