Aiming to actively engage the faith based organizations as key actors to end up the violence against the children, the Mozambican Religious Council established the Religious Platform for Child Wellbeing in Mozambique with World Vision support. The Platform will focus in early marriages and child abuse, as two of worst forms of child violence in Mozambique.
The Platform constitution marked the highest moment of three days meeting under which religious leaders professing different religions including Christians, Muslim, Islamic, Hindu, Bhai and World Vision come together with the purpose of finding ways to better stand up against all forms of child violence.
In the occasion, the members of the religious council committed themselves through ´Zero Tolerance declaration´ to do their upmost to tackle the causes of child molestation, working side by side with the Civil Society and the Government of Mozambique. This includes eliminating and eradicating early marriages, child abuse and promotion of birth registrations in the communities.
“We have learned a lot during these three days. Most of the congregations used to work with children of their circle only and World Vision brought us to the same approach and broadened our eyes to see that there are children out there in need and vulnerable,” Talita Guila, a member of the Religious Platform said. “I am confident that our efforts will make a difference. We all agreed that the influence of religious congregations and with the work that we do we will definitely end early marriage,” Talita added.
The platform is expected through its unquestionable influence in the community to discourage early marriage among other harmful practices to children. Among other things the Platform will support the implementation of the National Strategy to Prevent and Fight Early Marriage in the country, a tool recently approved by the Mozambican Government.
In Mozambique, one in two girls gets married before the age of 18 according to United Nations Children's Fund. As a consequence, the Mozambican education authorities reported recently, that over 6000 children abandoned school due to early marriage only in the last two years.
“We are in a degradant situation at the moment with all those numbers of children getting married before the proper age and children without registration. We need to reverse this numbers and this Platform, will be the bridge between Religious Council, the Government, Civil Society Organization and the people in general,” Anisha Praku, member of the Platform, said.
“The children of today will be the youth and adults of tomorrow, so we are more than very welcome to join other religious congregations so that together we can bring violence against children down,” Hassane Phumo said.
For the Chairman of the Religious Council, Sheik Aminuddin Mohamad, “the goals of the platform meet the demands of different congregations in the country, because they always wanted to work together for noble causes. In the very same time we are sending a message to the world showing that different congregations can live together. We are showing to world our role model, our collaboration with love,” said the Sheik Aminuddin.
The Sheik reiterated that “children are our future. Without them, the world means nothing. Children are the hope of the society at all aspects, so the platform objectives are noble”.
World Vision challenged the platform to use its´ influence in implementing the memorandum at the most local level in order to influence changes that will contribute to child well-being.
“We are very much aware of the influence of the religious leaders in the community. Let´s us make use of it and help the government meet is goal of ending early marriage by 2020, because that is only possible if the religious leaders are on board,” believes the World Vision National Director for Mozambique, Graham Strong.
Strong added that “The memorandum itself cannot do anything if not implemented and it cannot succeed if it remains in the capital Maputo only.”