Youth Advocates Urge Lawmaker Participation in Child Rights Forum

By San Yamin Aung 16 November 2016

RANGOON — Burmese children’s rights advocates and appointed children’s representatives called on parliamentarians to participate in the upcoming National Children’s Forum in Naypyidaw, during which they hope that new laws and policies protecting the country’s youth emerge and existing laws are reinforced.

The forum will be held at the Mingalar Thiri Hotel from Nov. 18-20, coinciding with Universal Children’s Day on Nov. 20—the day the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

Burma signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in July 1991, adopting survival, developmental, protection and participation rights for children.

U Aung Myo Min, director of Equality Myanmar, said at a press conference on Tuesday in Rangoon that regarding participation rights, many Asean countries, including Burma, largely fail to take into account children’s voices when addressing children’s issues.

“At this forum, children will present their needs and recommendations to the country’s legislators to address the problems,” he said.

He said many child rape cases are seen on social media and that about 300 girls and boys under age 18 are trafficked each month to Thailand, according to data compiled by civil society organizations working along the border in Thailand’s Mae Sot. He added that in underage rape cases, perpetrators are quickly released and not severely punished.

About 70 lawmakers from the Union Parliament, along with other interested lawmakers, were invited to join 130 children’s representatives from 14 different states and divisions at the forum to discuss current issues.

Ma Theint Honey Htun, a children’s representative from Karenni State who will attend the forum, said state representatives would discuss education, public health, protection, peace and environmental preservation in regards to youth at the forum.

She said prior to the forum, representatives discussed with children the difficulties they face including drugs, landmines and security issues in conflict areas, limited education and water scarcity.

Mg Zin Min Thu, one of six representatives from Rangoon Division who will attend the forum, told The Irrawaddy they also discussed domestic violence, child labor, education and health problems.

“I would like lawmakers to attend the forum and to listen to our voices. I hope they will address the problems and needs that we present,” Ma Theint Honey Htun added.

U Aung Myo Min said the children’s recommendations from the forum would also be used in an alternative report put out by non-governmental and civil society organizations next year coinciding with a government report on the Convention of the Rights of the Child.