When former Superintendent Grace Kpan of Montserrado County launched a program to raid the streets of Monrovia and its environs of teenage street sellers, the efforts may have been misinterpreted and politicized by some Members of the Legislature and a few other officials of the Executive Branch.
As a result of the foregoing, the program, truly in the interest of the children and nation, was discouraged and halted. But little did these “detractors of child protection and social justice” know that street-selling by kids between the ages of seven and fifteen would have been alarmingly discouraging and image-tainting to the nation.
Moreover, the danger associated with the presence of these under-age children in the streets and among vehicles throughout the day and up to 9pm is that these kids –females and males, could be raped, sexually exploited or abused and sodomized by heartless and devilish men.
With the 2017 general elections drawing closer, they could even be kidnapped for rituals. These are children who may have been brought by relatives and guardians from Rural Liberia under the guise of educational growth and development, as a way of helping their parents.
Unfortunately, they turn out to be domestic slaves and bread-winners for such guardians and relatives. Interestingly, while these kids sell in the streets and among moving vehicles, no one seems to be attracted to their plights.
Sadly, public officials and rights advocates whose vehicles ply these routes, especially between VAMOMA House in Sinkor and the S.D. Cooper Junction in Paynesville on the Tubman Boulevard, continue to remain mute.
Regrettably, the main government agency – the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, charged with the statutory responsibility of initiating and undertaking programs for children seems to be dormant towards such direction.
While the ministry should be very active in caring for these street-selling kids through various programs, as well as ensuring that guardians and relatives perpetrating such physical and psychological violence against these children undergo the necessary investigations and punishment for their actions, it has become very inactive – only focusing on workshops, seminars and other non-tangible-impact making activities.
We believe that now was the time that the Government of Liberia, through its relevant institutions, including the one already mentioned, and its international partners, move in urgently – with all of the resources, in addressing this unfortunate situation.
It is, therefore, a must that the government of Liberia intervenes at all cost and levels in removing these street-selling children to avoid embarrassment that may befall the nation.