Egypt's largest religious institutes have collaborated to publish three studies on 11 forms for child abuse, vowing to tackle them.
In a historical move for Egypt's children, the Islamic Sunni Institute of al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church have come together to launch and sign religious publications against various types of child abuse on Monday, according to Youm7.
Both Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church had cooperated with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) prior to signing a declaration statement per which NGOS and institutions should consider the religious stances when combating child abuse, which is condemned equally on both sides. The latter are also working together to contribute in media awareness campaigns, provided training to 850 imams and priests to address violence against children.
The ceremony – which was attended by highest Islamic authority, al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, and Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of Athens Holy See of Saint Mark – also saw the participation of prominent figures like the International Cooperation Minister Ghada Wali and the Minister of Endowment Mokhtar Gomaa.
The move has been hailed as a religious interdialogue initiative that comes at a much-needed time. According to UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Peter Salama, as per Youm7, “This joint initiative comes at a critical time for the region where children are experiencing unprecedented levels of violence.''
Recent political instabilities, not just in Egypt but in the whole Middle East, have left many children parent-less, mutilated, and traumatised by wars such as in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. On a nationwide level, there is a crisis considering the amount of street children roaming the cities as well as drug consumption, rape, and early pregnancies.
As per UNICEF's country profile of Egypt, children suffer the most from trafficking, living in the streets, violence including FGM/C, accessing justice, and HIV for those involved in sex work. In three studies carried between the International Islamic Center of Population Studies and Research (IICPSR) and the church, 11 forms of violence were discerned. The forms include domestic violence against children, forced marriage common in villages, discrimination among children, child labour, children of armed conflicts, sexual abuse of children, absence of family care and homelessness, violence in schools, trafficking of children, violence against children on television and the Internet. A major form of violence is also female genital mutilation (FGM), which affected at least 92 percent of women in 2015 as per statistics.
In his speech, Pope Tawadros called for more family harmony in his 'Hug and Love' initiative, and Sheikh al-Azhar Ahmed Al Tayeb said that fulfilling children's rights was one of the pillars of Islamic law in which their mind, soul, and rights were to be safeguarded.
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