Posts Tagged ‘children’s rights’

‘Lost Childhoods’ – an interactive graphic novel exposing child abuse in Nigeria – awarded at BAFTA

June 20, 2019

Journalist-photographer Marc Ellison receiving the award in London on Monday evening [One Media World]
Journalist-photographer Marc Ellison receiving the award in London on Monday evening [One Media World]

The winning entry – Lost Childhoods: How Nigeria’s Fear of Child ‘Witchcraft’ Ruins Young Lives – was praised on Monday for its interactive investigation into the practice of branding children and young adolescents as “witches”. “Combining graphic novel imagery with film, this highly accessible piece effectively covers a major human rights issue,” One World Media organisers said from the awards gala at London’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Blamed for family illness, sudden financial loss or other misfortunes, the children are often beaten, locked into cages, branded with hot knives or made to undergo costly “exorcisms” performed by so-called “prophets” in local churches. With little choice but to flee, many children end up as drug addicts and living in rubbish dumps or on the streets.

AJLabs teamed up with journalist-photographer Marc Ellison and Nigerian illustrator Samuel Iwunze to unearth the facts of this under-reported story. Working meticulously with local fixers, NGOs and child psychologists, Ellison was able to expose the practice that has taken hold in parts of the Niger Delta and that has partially been fuelled by myths propagated by the Nigerian film industry.

Lost Childhoods employs a mix of visual and textual formats, including comic/graphic novel illustrations to preserve anonymity and portray past events. Carlos Van Meek, Al Jazeera’s director of Digital Innovation and Programming, said, “This story, in particular, is a skilful weave of investigations, videos, photos and illustrations that brings to light disturbing physical, emotional and religious abuse against children. Our goal is – and always will be – to make an impact that leads to positive change at the local and international level.”

As further testament to the production, AJLabs worked with NGOs to translate the graphic novel into local languages for distribution within communities, schools and churches in Nigeria, in an attempt to educate people and end the practice of scapegoating innocent children and branding them as witches.

Nigeria witchcraft

Profile of Sri Lankan Marini de Livera: a lawyer and a ‘Woman Of Courage’

May 23, 2019

REBECCA ELLIS published a profile of Marini de Livera under the title “She’s A Lawyer … A Thespian … And Now A State Department ‘Woman Of Courage‘”

Marini de Livera’s plays are not for the faint of heart. In her home country of Sri Lanka, the pro bono lawyer has found that crimes against women and children often take place behind closed doors — in homes, orphanages and schools. With her traveling theater group, de Livera seeks to shed light on the human rights abuses in her country by putting the violence on stage, front and center. “There are beautiful laws in the law books,” she says. “But when I went out to the slums, to the rural areas, to conflict-ridden areas, I found what is in the law books is not a practical reality.”

A pro bono attorney with a degree in speech and drama from Trinity College London, de Livera has spent her career using theater to ensure that the lofty lessons she learned in law school can be used to assist Sri Lankans who are unlikely to ever see an attorney. Her dedication to helping women and child victims of crime has made her one of the 10 recipients of the 2019 International Women of Courage award [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/11/international-women-of-courage-awards-2019-given-out-at-the-us-state-department/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/12/one-journalist-who-did-not-get-the-women-of-courage-award-but-almost/].

De Livera has served as the chairperson of Sri Lanka’s child welfare agency, the National Child Protection Authority, and now runs Sisters at Law, an advocacy group for impoverished women and children. She spoke with NPR about her creative approach to addressing human rights in her country, and why she’s focusing on using her theater training to better the situation of children in Sri Lanka’s orphanages.

What are some of the legal issues that women and children in Sri Lanka need help with?

Women and children are denied justice if they’re uneducated, and if they live in rural areas. They don’t enjoy the same basket of human rights that privileged people have because they don’t have access to lawyers.

What needs to happen to accomplish that?

There has to be legal literacy. These women and children have to know what the laws in the country are and what their human rights are. If they are educated about their rights, they can go to court and demand them.

You’ve often used theater to promote this legal literacy in Sri Lanka. Can you give me an example of how this works?

One of my favorite plays I put on was about corporal punishment. I went to a Catholic school where a priest was hitting boys every day. I explained to the school that there are different forms of violence – cultural violence, psychological violence, physical violence. Then I asked the boys to make a play about their experiences with violence. And one of the boys reenacted what the priest had done to him. [It helped] these boys find an outlet to say, “We don’t want to kneel down when we come late to school. We don’t want to be beaten by a cane.”

How did you come to see theater as a way to educate the public on their legal rights?

I had been a lecturer in law [in Sri Lanka], and one of the things I had to teach was U.K. law principles. And the students were bored to death. So I said, these are the books, you read, then you tell me what the rule of law and separation of powers are through a performance. I realized if I could use this in the classroom, why not in the village to simplify the law?

What is your theater group working on now?

I’m working on a street theater [program] to create awareness for parents [and encourage them] not to send their children to orphanages. I’m going to show that family is the place for the child. In Sri Lanka, we have a lot of “social orphans” where they have both parents, but the children are suffering in orphanages.

Past reports have found that over 80 percent of the 20,000 children in Sri Lanka’s child-care institutions, including orphanages, have at least one parent. These parents are often unable to provide for their children or the child has a disability and requires extra care. And sometimes the children are sent to such an institution because of a criminal offense.

Orphanages should be the last resort. So I’m promoting alternative care. Some of the mothers are capable of looking after their children, but they’ve handed over their child to an overcrowded orphanage. I’m thinking of giving parenting skills training to these mothers and economically empowering them, finding them a nice home and settling the children with them.

You mentioned earlier that this prize is the first time in your life you felt appreciated for “walking in the opposite direction” from others in the law profession. Do you have hopes other attorneys will follow in your path?

I’m very unhappy to say each time I go to court people come up to me like a swarm of flies and say, “We don’t have a lawyer to appear on behalf of us.” I want to take all the country’s young attorneys and train them to be another Marini – to clone myself. Because I have to hand this on to the younger generation.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/08/701212104/shes-a-lawyer-a-thespian-and-now-a-state-department-woman-of-courage

Two Ugandans get EU human rights award in Uganda

May 23, 2018

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Peter Sewakiryanga (left) and Margret Arach Orech after receiving their awards at a function in Bugolobi. Photo by Ashraf Kasirye

The 2018 Human Rights Defenders Award went to Margaret Arach Orech, the founder of Uganda Landmine Survivors’ Association and Peter Sewakiryanga, the founder of Kyampisi Childcare Ministries, an organisation that supports child victims of sacrifice.

Arach, who lost her leg to a landmine during an attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in 1998, uses her organisation to solicit for support for fellow survivors and persons with disabilities.

Sewakiryanga, a pastor now takes care of 80 child survivors of trafficking and human sacrifice has built an extensive network linking communities and security to track suspected cases. In 2017, Sewakiryanga travelled to Oman to rescue six victims of child trafficking. He is credited for championing research and spearheading an awareness campaign in communities to stop the crime.

https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1478305/ugandans-eu-human-rights-awards

UNICEF: the top ten cartoons for children’s rights

November 23, 2012

UNICEF has just released the ‘Top 10 Cartoons for Children’s Rights’, as selected by polling broadcasters and communicators, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Cartoons for Children’s Rights is a UNICEF broadcast initiative that aims to inform people around the world about children’s rights. So far, the effort has forged partnerships with many well-known animation studios that have developed more than 80 half-minute public service announcements (PSAs). Each PSA illustrates a right described in the global rights treaty, such as ‘Freedom from Child Labour’ or ‘Protection from Neglect’. All the spots are non-verbal, in order to get the rights message across to everyone, regardless of language.

 

Law Students Participate in Hearing of human Rights Committee on violations in Cape Verde

March 23, 2012

This is just one good example of how students can get practically involved in work as human rights defenders. Four law students from the Indiana Purdue University Indianapolis will go to New York this week to participate in the United Nations Human Rights Committee hearing on allegations of the corporal punishment and sexual abuse of elementary school children in Cape Verde.

The four are part of a group of Robert H. McKinney School of Law students who, in partnership with Delta Cultura Cabo Verde, a Cape Verdean nongovernmental organization, researched and wrote a shadow report to a United Nations committee discussing how the government of Cape Verde has failed to combat corporal punishment and sexual abuse of school children (Articles 2, 7 & 24 of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights).

“Writing the shadow report has been a rewarding experience. Not only do we get the practical experience of legal writing, but we learn a little more about the world and help prevent human rights violations globally,” said one of the students. Unlike periodic reports submitted by states parties, a shadow report provides U.N. human rights treaty bodies with various forms of information — including victims’ personal accounts, data and statistics —independently prepared by NGOs and details violations by states parties of a specific treaty. “Shadow reporting enables grass-roots human rights defenders to engage in United Nations human rights monitoring and enforcement mechanisms,” Program in Human Rights Law manager Perfecto Caparas said.

for more information: Diane Brown IU Communications habrown@iupui.edu