By Patrick Obia
Listen To The Report
Prevent Abuse of Children Today, PACT, has ended a two-day stakeholders conference on ending child abuse in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.
The annual conference organized by Basic Right Counsel Initiative, BRCI, with support from Safe Child Africa, held June 21-22, 2022 at Hogis Hotel, drew key actors from Cross River and Akwa Ibom State, who sued for an end to witchcraft branding and all forms of child abuse.
The stakeholders majorly from the security world, the Media, judiciary, non-governmental organizations, religious institutions, and government among others, all brainstormed in the event which was highly interactive and practical on ways to tackle all forms of abuse of children.
Welcoming participants to the event, the founder of PACT, Gary Foxcroft said the organization kicked off in 2006 with the aim of fighting abuse, trafficking, and torture of women and children.
The Portugal-based, Gary enjoined participants to find new ways to prevent witchcraft branding and all forms of abuse for a better society.
Day one: Mr. Arikpo Williams led the discussion on the topic, ‘child abuse: reporting cases of child abuse and referral pathways’.
Arikpo also touched lightly on the rudiments and ways of reporting cases as well as referring abused victims to appropriate agencies.
Day two: Ukeme Ekong whose discussion was majorly practical dwelled on the topic: of ‘child protection and team building’.
She said TEAM – Together Everyone Achieve More, is the best way for all to achieve a positive result in protecting children from unfair treatment.
Demystifying the topic: ‘child protection and the law’, the co-founder of BRCI, Barr. James Ibor noted that the law is an instrument of social control. He urged the public not to rely on superstitions, myths, and beliefs to conclude who a witch is.
He clung to section 210 of the Criminal Code 2004 and section 274 (1) of Child Right Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2008 and however, said one’s belief should not be to the detriment and infringement on others’ rights.
Speaking shortly after the conference with CrossRiverWatch, the Program Coordinator, Basic Right Counsel Initiative, Ese Ibor, expressed joy and optimism about the outcome of the event.
She implored participants to be proactive in the fight against witchcraft branding and other abuse.
“I feel optimistic, excited, and that we have achieved what we set out to achieve because for us it is all about keeping children safe in Cross River State and Akwa Ibom State.
“Participants should be proactive, and put more effort, especially children who are accused of being witches on the streets and everywhere. They should go into their various organizations and practice what they have learned.”
The high point of the event was group discussions, practicals, and group photographs.
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