Campaign promotes children’s rights with workshops, theatre

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A campaign is underway to raise awareness of the rights of children, whether in the home, on the street or being illegally trafficked from one place to another.

Child on the Move aims to prevent child abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking and child homelessness, with a particular focus on the issues of those children who are in transit or lacking stable accommodation. It brings together United Against Child Trafficking, an organisation based in Mae Sot, Thailand; Equality Myanmar; and Burma Against Child Trafficking.

U Ye Yint Naung, a member of United ACT, said the Child on the Move campaign is part of a larger movement to address the needs of one of the most vulnerable segments of the population.

“It is not a new issue,” he said. “But part of the principle of the [UN] Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] mentions protecting children on the move. We want to highlight the point.”

Preparation for the project began in June and it was launched in September. Running through to ASEAN People’s Forum, scheduled for March 2014, the project includes a training program on the CRC, talks, workshops and seminars in cooperation with government sectors and civil society organisations.

Whether looking at forced or voluntary movement, the program breaks down the issues facing children in transit into three areas of study: the child’s starting point, their life on the move, and their final destination.

“We need to do more research on the root cause on why children are moving, their struggles and danger on the way, and whether their final destination ends with success or failure. From there we can make better approaches to fixing the problem,” U Ye Yint Naung said.

He said many children moving from one place to another face physical or emotional abuse whether they are alone or travelling with family.

One part of the campaign, called Destination Unknown, will let children’s voices take centre stage – literally. The organisations are seeking 25 interested children to participate in a play designed to spread knowledge about the issues in an entertaining way.

Training will be conducted during October, with experienced facilitators sharing information about the CRC as well as leading the children in acting, singing and making decorations. The play will be recorded on video and presented on a number of significant dates, including International Children’s Day on November 20, International Anti-Human Trafficking Day on December 12 and International Migrant Day on December 18.

The group will also perform live in Yangon in a number of townships, including Shwe Pyi Thar, Hlaing Tharyar, Mayangone, Dawbon and North Dagon.

Daw Kyi Phyu of Burma ACT said the activities aim to send a message to government sectors that they must strengthen implementation of the convention.

“We will try to cooperate with government officials in every department to share awareness on CRC and help to implement it as much as we possibly can. We want them to know that they are responsible for children on the street and [those who are at]risk of human trafficking,” she said.

She also said it is not enough to simply round up children from the street for their own protection.

“Removing street kids doesn’t mean putting them in prison. It is not the right solution to this issue.”

The organisations involved in Child on the Move plan to raise the issue of children’s rights at the ASEAN People’s Forum, to be held in Nay Pyi Taw in March 2014.

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