We also want to be protected from violence !

Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child explains that all the world’s children should enjoy certain rights without discrimination. Article 34 of the same Convention prohibits all forms of sexual violence, including gender-based. We also want to be protected from violence !

So far, many violations of gender-based rights have taken place in tin the western Bandundu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Respect for gender involves ensuring children have several things: equal access to school for both girls and boys, a fight against all forms of sexual violence and a fight against child and forced marriage.

Regarding the issue of access to school, the Congolese Government has made significant progress in gender equality in school. According to the statistics, the percentage of girls and boys attending school are nearly identical. The situation is more satisfactory in urban areas than in villages. Girls who study in cities are much more aware of the importance of education, while in certain villages, girls do not consider themselves able to compete with men for access to political and administrative positions and therefore do not see the point going to school for it.

Girls also often don’t finish their secondary education because they become pregnant and must care for the child.

We had the opportunity to visit the village of Sanpiere, a town located 90 kilometers from the city of Bandundu, and carried out theater activities and a participatory debate focused on gender issues. We spoke to a boy and the director of one of the village’s primary schools. Francis, a 12 year old boy we spoke to, said he preferred to educate boys more than girls because many girls do not finish their studies because of pregnancy.

The Director of the Sanpiere Primary and Secondary School explained that when a young girl in his school became pregnant, he sent her away.

But girls continue to be victims of child marriages in many villages. Child and forced marriages greatly affect a young girl’s mental state, hindering her intellectual and physical growth and preventing her from finishing her studies, making her dependent on many situations. As for sexual violence recorded in the Province, I learned that the Provincial Division of Gender, Family and Children had identified nearly 1,114 cases.

My commitment against gender-based violence

Although much work has been carried out to raise awareness among communities for respect for gender, only a few villages are benefiting from it. Many villages don’t really take advantage of awareness programs. It is important to raise awareness among young girls who must take ownership of all these fights for their development !

We are requesting that the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children punish perpetrators of sexual violence and support non-governmental organizations in raising awareness among young girls and mothers. We believe that the fight in the world today to empower women must be instilled in young girls. Girls should know that they have much to offer the world. This requires preparation in the form of education.

They must study hard and assert themselves in the society of the future.

Translated from French by Gail Somers

Initially published in May 2015

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Deo

Déo Deo a 17 ans, il est enfant reporter et finaliste au collège Kivuvu à Bandundu. Il a représenté les enfants de la RDC au Forum de l'espoir des enfants à Bujumbura en juin 2014. Il fut élu ambassadeur du Forum de l'espoir et a représenté les enfants de la Région des grands Lacs au sommet Spécial de la CIRGL sur l'emploi des jeunes. Pour lui, être enfant Reporter est une opportunité qui lui permet de plaider pour l'amélioration de la situation des enfants de sa communauté

Déo is 17 years old, he is a Young Reporter and a student in final year in KIVUVU High School in Bandundu. Deo has represented Congolese childre at the Forum of Hope in Bujumbura in 2014. He was elected as an Amabassador of Hope and represented children from the Great Lakes region at the Special ICGLR Summit on Youth Employment. For him, being a child reporter gives him an opportunity to advocate on improving the situation on children in his community.

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