Sexual and gender-based violence, women and the girl child strike at the very heart of Good Shepherd mission. For 2018, much of the contention has centered on the issue of child marriage. While the discourse continues to be debated through the various mediums, our position on the issue is “child marriage is simply wrong!”. Not only does it rob a girl of her basic right to childhood, it is also detrimental to her health and growth, education and makes her vulnerable to domestic violence and sexual abuse. Moreover, having to carry babies when she herself has the body of a child is not aligned to the concept of ‘the best interest of the child’ which is the underlying principle of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Child marriage is only one of the many forms of sexual-gender based violence (SGBV) faced by the girl child. As part of our continued advocacy, the 2018 Orange The World (OTW) campaign focuses on “Say ‘No’ to violence against the girl child.” Good Shepherd takes the position that every girl child is born with dignity and inherent rights that entitle her to a childhood and opportunities to realize her potential as a person, a woman and a contributing member of society. We also uphold the belief that when girls are valued they can impact and contribute positive changes to their environment.
This booklet features 16 reflection articles – one for each of the 16 days of activism promoted through this campaign. The compelling stories speak truthfully of the transgressions, trauma, and conflicts related to the various forms of SGBV experienced by the girl child. Perspectives from stakeholders and experts add depth to understanding the governing laws, policies and context affecting the girl child. The thought-provoking daily reflection challenges us to delve deeper into the prevailing issues and to make a response.
Advocacy requires action. This is the core purpose of this booklet and it is the least we can do to honor those who have courageously shared their stories with us. We also stand in solidarity with the many who bear the pain of SGBV, those whose stories are not captured in this booklet - #HearMeToo. For the many survivors who shared their stories, this self-advocacy has been a journey of healing and reclaiming self with the intent of helping other survivors move forward and make better sense of their lives.
May this booklet affirm your personal commitment and spur you on towards enhancing the rights of the girl child to protection and against SGBV.
Our gratitude to Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for their support in this campaign.
Chin Poh Choo
Executive Director Good Shepherd Services