Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Child Abuse Should be Prevented

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Child Abuse Should be Prevented

Afghan children have been highly vulnerable to domestic and collective violence across the country. Falling victim to social and economic challenges, children suffer painfully. Their rights to life, liberty and education are trampled upon with impunity and the ongoing war has compounded violence against them.
Violation of children’s rights to education is the tip of the iceberg. They encounter with life-threatening challenges triggered by insurgency. Children’s death by warring parties, mainly the Taliban, has made the national and international headlines in recent months.
With the growing insurgency, children are left at the mercy of militancy and used as a cannon fodder by the Taliban and IS fighters. Afghan children suffered many challenges in the country as a result of war and conflicts, especially during the Taliban’s regime, and their anguish continues unabated. In addition to being targeted by warring parties, children have been recruited by the Taliban and IS insurgents to fight against the Kabul government. In short, on the one hand, children easily fall for the bogus claim and ideological indoctrination of radical parties. On the other hand, they are targeted by warring parties losing their lives in Improvised Explosive Device, suicide bombings, and airstrikes.
Meanwhile, Afghan children are widely involved in forced labor across the country. The families, who suffer extreme poverty, have no option except for forcing their children to backbreaking labor. To walk on the streets in Kabul, one will see a large number of under-aged boys and girls who are searching for bread and butter in one way or another. With this in mind, children laborers are deprived of their rights to education.
Underage marriage is also a common practice in Afghanistan. A number of female children are forced to getting married, which leads to horrible consequences.  
Recruiting children to fight are highly cruel of the militant fighters that exploit children as object. Targeting children or carrying out indiscriminate attacks are not only against the national and international law but also against the code of ethics and religious tenets. The militants, who claim to practice upon religious tenets, should realize, if they have only rudimentary knowledge about religion, that recruiting children is banned in Islam.
To prevent child abuse and decrease violence against them, Afghan clerics have to raise their voice. It is the responsibility of religious scholars and mullahs to uphold the rights of children. They have to preach against forced labor, underage marriage, and children’s recruitment by the Taliban and IS insurgents.
As it is stated in Article 49 of Afghan Constitution that “forced labor on children shall not be allowed”, Afghan government must take necessary measures to prevent force labor on Afghan children. Meanwhile, it is the government’s responsibility to provide free education for children not only in cities but also in remote areas of the country. All children should have access to free education. Creating jobs and supporting the families, who have lost their bread-winners, is most likely to reduce forced labor. The government should also take necessary measures to alleviate poverty. 
International humanitarian law, or the laws of war, prohibits the recruitment or use of children by parties to a conflict. “Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities” is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which Afghanistan belongs. Those who commit, order, assist, or have command responsibility for war crimes are subject to prosecution by the ICC or national courts.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which Afghanistan ratified in 2003, also places obligations on governments to “take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices.” Military forces also have an obligation to provide children with special respect and attention. The Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that governments “take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by armed conflict.”
The international community has to uphold children’s rights, freedoms, and dignity and empower them through schooling. That is, the terrible effect of war should be mitigated via global campaign against extremism and providing education for children. After all, the perpetrators of war crimes and violators of children rights have to be pursued and prosecuted in the first instance.  Since targeting or recruiting children is against national and international laws and religious tenets, the militant fighters have to stop it.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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