There is a meeting of the Child Rights Club at Chris Hani Secondary School in Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town, South Africa. Amanda is writing suggested causes of the commercial sexual exploitation of children on the board.
As a child rights ambassador, I am able to stand up for children’s rights and to tell other children that it is not necessary to be humiliated and treated badly. If you know your rights, you can find help and report the people who abuse you,” says Amanda, 15. “Here in Khayelitsha there are taxi drivers who offer girls free rides in return for sex, or rape them. The girls are too afraid to speak up. In our club, two girls have been exploited in this way.”
The members of the Child Rights Club have many stories of abuse to tell.
“The older Xhosa generation often thinks that girls are the ones who are to take responsibility for household work and not benefit from education. When you want another career, your mother will say: ‘I gave birth to you, so you should obey me. No man will marry you if you are refusing to do the housework. If you do not listen to me, you can get out of my house and find somewhere else to live.’ This is one reason why girls end up on the street and selling their bodies,” says Xolelwa, 15. “I am a Child Rights Ambassador because it is dangerous out there for girls. When we have a bad experience and share the story of it, we are not alone any more.”
“We girls have to speak about what is inside our hearts. I want to help change things. As a Child Rights Ambassador I want to teach everyone about our rights,” says Sisanda, 17. “Many girls do not know that they have rights. In our club they know that when bad things happen to them it is not because they are bad, but that someone else abused their rights. I am equal to boys. With the World’s Children’s Prize, our parents can be taught that.”
“It is true that boys are also abused,” says Yolanda, 17, “but girls are abused a hundred times more. In our club, I have had the courage to talk about my own personal life to the other girls and then discovered that they too have stories of abuse to tell.”Yolanda