I’m extremely proud to announce the creation of a new international movement to encourage and support laws which protect the rights of children. I’ll share the press release with you first and then comment some more:
A new international child safety movement was launched today [22nd November] in Bahrain ending the week which has marked Universal Children’s Day, the International Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the 20th Anniversary for the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
‘Protect Children Now’ is a movement to promote the safety of children from abuse through encouraging new and more comprehensive legislation. In the initial stages itwill focus on the Middle East.
This movement has emerged out of the work of Be Free which helps and supports children who have been abused and raises awareness of child protection issues through educational events and regional and international conferences.
The founders of the movement are: Dr Soroor Qarooni, President of the Bahrain Women’s Association; Mr Souhail Al Gosaibi, local entrepreneur and martial arts expert; Rana Al Sairafi , the manager of Be Free; Dr Mohammed Al Roken, lawyer and associate professor U.A.E. University; Dr Najat Al Mala‘a, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child pornography and trafficking; Dr J’Lein Liese, President of the Foundation for Global Leadership and Dr Kate Maguire Consultant Psychotherapist in Trauma and Abuse and academic, Middlesex University, UK.
I cannot tell you how proud I am to be part of such an movement. If you’ve been following me for some time, you know that I’m extremely passionate about the cause of child abuse. I believe in most good causes from poverty eradication to environmental causes, but children’s anti-abuse causes have a very special meaning to me.
I believe that an abused adult, say an abused wife, has the choice to leave her husband. She may not believe she has a choice, but the truth is she does, she could leave if she wanted to. But a child has no choice. It’s not like the poor child can pack up his bags and leave his home.
I think hell has a special place for child abusers and pedophiles. A deep, dark, fiery place reserved just for them. A really nasty place…
Okay okay, I digress. I believe in this cause so strongly because poor children cannot protect themselves from adult abusers. They need as much help as possible. Also, as a father nothing scares me more than the thought of someone abusing my children. I guess me helping this cause is my karmic way of preventing someone from ever harming my kids.
Protect Children Now was born out of the frustration the main two founders, Dr. Soroor Qarooni and Rana Al Sairafi, felt with current child protection laws. They noticed the massive gap between the laws in the West and the ones here in the Middle East. Which are either non-existent of very lack indeed. And what few laws exist are poorly implemented.
So they thought of the idea of a new international movement that would work on promoting new and tougher laws. This would be done by (friendly and peaceful) lobbying of government agencies and MP’s, creating awareness campaigns etc. The movement will focus on the Middle East region first, and spread from there, God willing.
Dr. Soroor first contacted me in October inviting me to be part of this. I said yes right away. I told her that I would always be part of anything that she was involved in and that helped further the cause of protecting children from abuse. My fellow founders and I spent two days in the Be Free Centre outlining the basic structure of the movement, vision, mission, values etc. I’ll share those with you once the website is up and running.
We spent quite a bit of time thinking of different names, and we ended up with Protect Children Now. There’s till A LOT of work to be done, but the seed has been planted and God willing this movement will grow and make a real impact.
Observations From The West
It’s interesting to note that child protection laws can have a negative backlash. Dr. Kate Maguire mentioned that in the UK laws have gone too far. Parents are now afraid to discipline their children for fear of them being punished and/or their children being taken away from them. According to her, there seems to be a discipline crisis in the UK at the moment.
She also mentioned that parents are even afraid to take photos of their children in school events for fear of accidentally capturing another child in the background, which is now illegal. You cannot photograph other people’s children in any circumstances.
I’ve even heard (from another Brit) that children aren’t even allowed to play Simon Says in schools anymore, in case Simon says to the children “take off your clothes”! Can you believe it?
Dr. J’lean Liese mentioned that in Arizona they have passed a new law on how parents can spank their children! They actually created guidelines for that, can you imagine! In a way it’s good that we’re behind here in the Middle East. That way we can learn from the mistakes made in the West. I personally would still like to have the option of disciplining my kids (which I do as and when I see fit) without fear of the law. But everything has it’s limits, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
PhD’s and Other Observations
I must say we had a lot of fun during the two days we spent together. I’d like to think that we made life-long friendships. Dr. J’lean and I are even contemplating joint venturing in her business (but that’s a topic for another blog post… maybe).
At the end of the first day we had dinner together, along with Rana’s husband Ammar, and Dr. Wajeeha Al-Baharna. During dinner Dr. Kate asked me “Suhail, do you have a PhD, and if not, why not?”
This question took me by surprise. Rana and I are the only members of the founders that don’t have PhD’s. Rana is working on her doctorate right now and will soon be joining the PhD club. I’ll be the only one with a mere masters degree.
“I’m the complete anti-academic” I replied to Kate. “Why should I spend several years getting a degree I have no interest in?” I added. I’m an entrepreneur and a PhD would be a massive distraction.
Well, being an academic she encouraged me to get one. Apparently there’s a new programme in one of the universities that allows “practitioners”, i.e. (non-ivory tower cradled academics) to get a doctorate in one year. This is done by taking the practical experience they have in lieu of the years of studying and research. It’s not a PhD, I think it’s called a DProf (professional doctorate or something), but it’s exactly the equivalent of a PhD, and you still get to call yourself “Doctor”.
Hmmmm Dr. Suhail Ghazi Algosaibi, has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? 🙂
Kate really encourage me to look into it. I told her I would think about it. Right now I certainly don’t have the time for it, but who knows, maybe in the future….? I would consider doing it just for the personal challenge. But overall, I’m still not sure how much value that would add to my life. I still pride my self in being an anti-academic, and putting down the education system from time to time 🙂
Back To The Movement…
Notice the word “movement”. Protect Children Now is not registered anywhere and is not an NGO (Non Government Organisation). For now, it’s just a movement with big ambitions. As we grow and develop, it’ll probably become an NGO or charity registered somewhere. Stay tuned!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.