By Njoka Divine Ngwang
Edited by Peter Tah
Children all over the world still suffer sexual, emotional and physical abuse from their families and communities. This unfortunate situation is fueled by traditional beliefs, poverty, and ignorance. Children especially those in developing countries still face child labour, breast ironing, rape, incest, neglect, child soldiering, corporal punishment, and child pornography.
The CBC Health Services’ celebration of the Day of African Child on June 16, 2018 showed more commitment than ever in creating awareness on what child abuse is and the importance of policies that safeguard the interest of these children.
According to Centre for Inclusion Studies (CIS) 2014, sponsored by CBM, 10 in every 100 children with disabilities in Cameroon are abused every day. It was for this reason that the CBC Health Services got involved in child safeguarding.
The organisation has since intervened in so many cases of abused children. One of such is that of a 9-year-old girl (name withheld) who was severely abused by the father for several days resulting in the amputation of her right arm.
“In the night, as I was struggling to untie myself and screaming, he came in and stamped my mouth to the ground with his foot. Blood started oozing from my mouth and when I told him he shouted at me to stay quiet,” she narrates her ordeal.
Josephine Nsono is the Child Protection Officer with the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) Program of the CBC Health Services and had worked with this abused child. “She was tied and made to lie on the floor for over five days. As a result, her hands developed a swelling due to the absence of blood circulation and resulting in the amputation of the child’s arm in Mbingo Baptist Hospital,” explains Josephine.
“The CBC Health Survives’ Child Protection component assisted the child to get a plastic surgery to maintain the left arm… They also offered psycho-social support to the family and equally sought legal action against the perpetrators.”
Another case was that of two children who were accused of stealing a phone battery. The parents pulled a hot machete from fire and forced them to step on it. This resulted in the destruction of the children’s feet. The Child Protection Component was able to liaise with the legal department to handle the issue and also contributed about FCFA 4 million to ensure that they get plastic surgery.
“We’ve written child protection policies and put in place a strategic action plan to ensure that the rights of children are safeguarded. The Child Protection component of the SEEPD program provides technical assistance in training, building capacities, and developing specific institutional policies for child protection,” says Josephine.
The component continues to create awareness through the media, churches, communities, and schools; challenging policymakers to be intentional in the fight against child abuse in Cameroon. People are educated on available policies and the consequences of child abuse.
SEEPD Program Manager, Awa Jacques Chiraques, corroborates, “We’ve been able to introduce child-friendly services that meet specific needs of children. These include low vision, pediatric, clubfoot, and childhood cancer services.”
As an experienced actor in community development, the CBC Health Services promotes the active involvement of all children in actions that support their wellbeing. To achieve this, the organisation supports 20 councils in the Northwest Region of Cameroon to make their communities safe for children.
Here’s a link to a comprehensive audio piece on child protection and safeguarding by the CBC Health Services: https://soundcloud.com/christian-healthcare/special-report-on-child-protection-in-the-cbc-health-services.