As the Chairperson of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), the umbrella body of all Muslim entities in Kenya, I join my friends and colleagues in various religious traditions and secular organizations to support the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children.
The World Day of Prayer and Action – celebrated on 20 November — is a movement connecting people of religion and goodwill who are committed to work together towards a world where all children are free from violence. Guided by our religious teachings and values, inspired by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children, we particularly commit ourselves to protecting the rights of children to live in safety and happiness and to develop their full potential. In our prayer, meditation, worship and action, we hope and affirm that our world can be transformed into a place where children flourish.
Joining hands with our colleagues from the Global Network of Religions for Children, Religions for Peace, Save the Children, UNICEF and others to stop violence against children on the World Day addresses a critical need of our time. Every day, in every country, girls and boys suffer and witness
violence. Violence against children cuts across boundaries of culture, class, education, income and ethnic origin, and occurs in many different settings. Some of it is allowed by national laws and may be rooted in cultural, economic and social practices. Violence has devastating consequences for children’s health and well-being.
(1) In our region, violence remains a pervasive problem, hidden from the public view and almost totally absent from the political agenda. Studies by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) of children in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia suggest that almost all children under the age of 15 experience some form of violence at home, at school, in institutions, on the streets or at the workplace.
(2) Officials report that violence against children in Kenya is exceedingly and unacceptably high, with the United Nations estimating as many as 10 percent of girls and five percent of boys have experienced at least one episode of sexual violence in the previous 12 months.
(3) The most common offenders of sexual violence for females and males were found to be boyfriends, girlfriends and romantic partners. In the home, mothers and fathers were the most common offenders of physical violence against family members.
(4) Prophet Peace Be Upon Him said: Nothing a parent may award his (or her) child is better than a good upbringing. To ensure that children grow up to behave morally, Islam enjoins parents and guardians to emphasize tarbiyya which entails:
- Providing child with Islamic religious knowledge from a young age. Instilling consciousness of Allah (SWT) i.e. taqwa, knowing one’s rights and duties, knowing how to relate to the creator and fellow human beings, and differentiating right from wrong.
- Enjoining the child to do what is good and shun what is evil.
- Teaching the child the importance of good character (khlaq).
- Encouraging the child to observe acts of worship (ibada) from a tender age to instill discipline and obedience.
(5) On the occasion of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, I urge parents, guardians, and all responsible for the care and upbringing of children to both reflect and act on how we can raise our children through non-violent means and protect them from harm.