Somaya Alalfey, who has worked helping children on the streets of Egypt since 2009, said that there is a need to have a strategy to protect the children, particularly Arab children, in the midst of the current political crisis. She said this was vital because they need the freedom to have a good education, good health, social services and others. “We should put the rights of children on target to resolve the situation.”
Speaking on “The Absence of Arabic Childhood Protection and Strategies To Bring It Back” at the Book Forum at this year’s Sharjah Children’s Book Festival, Alalfey said that most governments are focused on the political situation, not on the women and children, who are the most vulnerable, so kids are paying the price of decreasing services including bad education and bad health.
“In troubled countries, children are used in the revolution and movements in the streets. Some non-government organisations and the civil society are making the children aware of the bad situation. But, we need a budget to work on the protection of children,” she said.
Panelist Naglaa Allam said that violence is so high and severe in Arab countries and that violence is not just on the streets but even on cartoons and television.
“We must have a strategy in two ways, individuals and groups. Cultural and intellectual rights of Arab children cannot exist without strategies. Strategies are a must to protect Arab children.”
Dr Alaa Abdelmonem, another panelist at the forum, talked about a model of the modern child that everyone has forgotten.
“Our children are deprived of being seated with adults. Many ignorant children are at home. Children have not gotten their rights to be protected and what they need. We even stop children from asking questions.”
Reactions from the attendees ranged from statements seeking focus on the essence of protection against violence, to urgency to work on social violence, sexual violence, and domestic violence affecting Arab children.
The discussion, moderated by Dr Haidar Waqeullah, reached a consensus on the existence of a wide gap between legal framework and the application of the law.
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