A hundred traditional chiefs, religious leaders, prefects, mayors, regional directors of social action, pair-educators, representatives of technical and financial partners, civil society organizations met this Thursday in Lomé as part of a workshop review of the implementation of actions to fight against traditional practices harmful to children, noted a journalist from the Savoir News agency.
The meeting, which is organized by the Ministry of Social Action and UNICEF, aims to draw the attention of all actors involved in the protection and promotion of children’s rights to progress in the prevention of traditional practices. harmful to children and to examine the challenges of eliminating such practices in Togo.
Practices detrimental to children’s rights in Togo include forced and early marriages, the phenomenon of children placed in convents, the phenomenon of so-called child witches, female genital mutilation, infanticide.
In 2013, following regional consultations throughout the country, a forum of traditional and religious leaders was held in Notsé where the latter signed a declaration with the aim of alleviating the conditions of traditional practices which compromise the harmonious development of the child. Three years later, on March 1, 2016, the same actors signed in Togblékopé, an additional commitment to the said declaration, focused on the fight against child marriage.
“Ten years ago, we adopted the Notsé declaration and its additional commitment to Togblékopé. Today, we are delighted with what has been done, in particular the general awareness of cultural and traditional practices that are harmful to children, an awareness such that today, children returning in the convent for a period of 3 or even 9 years and more and could no longer return to school or apprenticeship, this period was significantly reduced. Today, the children spend only 45 days in the convents and this during the long holidays. The rites are repeated if necessary. With regard to early marriages, in connection with the Togblékopé declaration, religious leaders have risen up against this practice so that these kinds of phenomena no longer occur. In the north of the country, infanticide is systematically eliminated after the declaration of Togblékopé”, confided Remy Kossi Apélété general rapporteur of the National Federation of Voodoo Cults and Traditions of Togo.
The traditional and religious leaders therefore took stock of the implementation of the Notsé declaration of 2013, of the additional commitment on the fight against child marriage in 2016 and, also, of the communication strategy for the protection children against social, traditional practices harmful to children.
“Even if we can congratulate ourselves on the many results obtained thanks to the political will of the highest authorities of our country and thanks to the support of technical and financial partners, we remain aware that many challenges still remain to be met”, recognized Ms. Adjovi Lolonyo Apédoh-Anakoma (Minister of Social Action, Promotion of Women and Literacy.
“This is why I welcome the holding of this workshop, which comes at the right time, to allow us to take stock of all the measures taken, like the declaration of Notsè, in accordance with the call for 2022 of the African Union, which invites Member States to take stock of the actions taken to eradicate practices harmful to children”, she added.
It should be remembered that in Togo, from 2015 to 2018, 1,593 children were victims of early or forced marriage, 701 children were considered “witch children”, 334 children were placed in convents, 16 girls were victims of female genital mutilation ( MGF) and 04 children are victims of infanticide. FIN