Jenny fights for child rights

May 12, 2017
By Jenny Mwenyi; Edited by Leanna Cappiello

When she was just 10 years old, Jenny noticed her friends were being treated unjustly.
She didn’t understand why kids in the neighbourhood were severely punished by their parents. Witnessing deprived education, withholding food and aggressive lashes led the young student to enroll in a program through World Vision and UNICEF. Jenny become a Youth Ambassador, determined to advocate for her friends. 

From her learning experience, the young girl came to a bitter conclusion: the parents in her community only recognized the duties of the child, not their rights.

Since 2011, Jenny’s been the president of the Parliament of Children in Kikimi. The parliament structures child participation and helps kids defend their rights. 

Jenny and her parliamentary colleagues are fighting to reduce abuse of children in their community. 

"We often discover that there are many cases that are still unknown because of the difficult access to justice," explains Jenny. Given this reality, Jenny and her comrades took action, encouraging victims to come forward. 

But many facts still hamper the initiative."Since the existence of our Parliament, we had to treat 220 cases of child rights violations that have had little success because we pay to lodge a complaint, and each judge is free to set the rate that pleases him., [which can lead to corruption],” says Jenny passionately. “In addition, there is lack of juvenile courts,” she says, emphasizing how important it is to have accessible justice systems for communities.

To prevent abuse and violations of children's rights, Jenny and her team are also working in outreach door-to-door to ensure that the community is aware of the rights of the child.

"We regularly conduct awareness campaigns targeting parents, children, teachers and churches to promote children's rights because they are clueless when it comes to child protection here. And it is amazing to hear the reactions of all those people who admit that they did not know there was a law to protect children from all these things they considered trivial. We are happy when some people understand the reason why they have to protect children,” Jenny says with passion.

Today, Jenny is dreaming of an institution that will focus on enhancing the well-being of children in the Dominica Republic of Congo. "My biggest dream is to see the setting up of a national children's parliament and to be consulted on all matters affecting children," she says.

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