The Degradation of Children in DR Congo
The Future Pillars of Society
Children are the future pillars of their countries.
Education can shun them from immoral and shameful activities such as early prostitution and banditry because it opens the children to a bright future.
In most parts of Africa, the children help with work in their homes. They do things like washing clothes, cleaning the house, shopping, cooking, looking after very young children, and even ploughing the field.
This is quite normal if we consider the traditional way of educating children about their future life.
In small families, the parents usually do everything by themselves. This is not the case in big families. When a family is large, it becomes impossible for only the parents to do the work alone, and children have to help their parents to carry out work in the home.
This is important because it teaches useful life skills at a young age, and why not, in the days to come?
Exploitation Outside the Home
However, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the context is different .
There is a big difference between normal family duties and giving children so much to do that they cannot go to school, and have little rest or play time.
This can cause physical or mental illness.
Unfortunately, it is what happens in the DRC.
Such an exploitation of children is known as child labour; it can happen in the child’s own home, but it usually happens when the child goes out of the home for paid work.
DRC children do many kinds of paid work.
They work on the land, for example, and on field activities like ploughing, fetching water and cooking wood, and looking after cows.
Others work in mines and in building, in bars and restaurants, and they work on the streets as beggars.
Many more become simply street children, bandits or thieves.
This is often observed among the children who failed to get education as their parents are very poor. Or, there are even other parents who willingly refuse to send their children to school.
'Useless, Worthless Daughters'
Girl children are usually the ones who suffer from their parents' unwillingness to give them an education.
These parents still believe girls are less intelligent than boys.
Besides, they argue, when a girl gets married, she will join a new family and therefore, she is no longer useful for the family into which she was born.
In some cases, girl children are also used in the sex industry, in the illegal drugs trade, and as child soldiers.
We may wonder about the reasons why these children get involved in these shameful activities.
The key reason is simply that their families are very poor and depend on the money the child earns.
'An Abomination:' HIV Infected Women
In many cases, children start working because their parents have been infected by HIV and cannot support the family.
The truth is that in the DRC, the majority of the women who were raped during the wars got ill with HIV, and many other sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and some of them delivered infected children.
Both the mother and the child are then infected in the same family.
This is an abomination in the DRC: that an HIV-infected woman becomes a symbol of shame for the husband, the family, and the whole community.
The child may become an orphan and have no one to look after him or her.
In addition, many bosses like to employ children because they are cheap, and do not ask for more money as adults would do.
Painful Future for Exploited Children
Child labour in the DRC fuels untold problems of a miserable life for the children involved.
Firstly, children earn very little for their hard work and long working hours.
Also, the long-term effects on their lives are terrible. Because these DRC children haven’t been to school, they grow up illiterate – and often with physical and emotional scars.
DRC children face long term physical, intellectual and emotional stress.
This is not only bad for them, but also for the development of the nation.
Child labour has awful outcomes that scar the child and our society extending far beyond the years of childhood.
The exploited children of today face an adulthood of unemployed and illiteracy – symbols of underdevelopment.
The Neglect of Our Children
DRC child labour in all its forms should be eradicated.
This involves the whole society. The parents, local and international NGO's, and the government, should think of the positive and strong welfare of these children, who certainly are the future pillars of the DRC.
If they are totally neglected – meaning that they do not get a solid basic foundation, the DRC will be victimised.
DRC uneducated children are often involved in rebellions; this is what is currently causing interminable wars in the DRC.
Children who are involved in wars commit strange and widespread killings when they have taken drugs.
Join in with COFAPRI
Congolese Females Action for Promoting Their Rights (COFAPRI) is involved in fighting this nationwide scourge.
With our very limited means, we try to do something, though little.
We are now paying school fees for four children, two of them were street children and the other two were born from rape.
The four children have no parents today, but at least they are going to school.
If everyone joins hands for assistance, we can help avoid children from rallying with war lords or getting involved in dirty activities like early prostitution, banditry, theft, etc.
Only after completion of their studies can they can seek jobs.
Let's send children to school for their positive future development and that of the Democratic Republic of Congo.