By Maimuna Al-Sulaimani
Scene 1 (*): Let’s call him Little ‘X’; let him be all of five, happily romping around with other kids at a kid zone in a mall. He is the picture of happiness; he loves playing with other kids and he is doing just that, having fun; boy, he is having a rollicking good time! His mother is window shopping somewhere close by.
Scene 2: Wow, in a matter of seconds, things change: A visibly upset woman emerges from nowhere and she catches hold of Li’l ‘X’ and slaps him around as though he is a rag doll! Please understand that Lil ‘X’ is being slapped around by a woman who is NOT even HIS MOTHER! This is happening in public at a very popular mall and in the presence of everyone around there: other kids, parents, other bystanders, including the officials at the kid zone.
But, typically, everyone stands around and do nothing!
Of course, they are all shell shocked, but no, no one lifts even a finger!
Who is the culprit here?
Meanwhile, the public judgement is extremely swift and as diverse. Some feel that it “must” be the kid, because kids are known to create problems that often make adults see red, right? Others feel that it has to be the adult who is the culprit because adults are well, ahem, culprits!
Scene 3: Now another adult enters into the scene and this time, it is the mother of the assaulted child. And of course, like any other mother rushes to the rescue of Li’l ‘X’ who is bawling his head off. The mother has no clue as to what has happened; why was her little boy beaten and humiliated in public and that too by an adult who is 10 times his size?
She loses her temper and words dart in the air like razor-sharp swords and the situation gets ugly. The authorities step in and well, they have a job to do; they have to find out who is at fault and so they take everyone in for questioning. That is okay, but the problem here is that a five-year old kid is involved here. A mere five-year old!
Imagine what would be going on in the head of that small kid who is being questioned at a police station by adults in a world of adults; imagine the trauma and scars it would leave in the mind of that innocent boy!
Look at this situation: a poor kid was put to extended hours of pain and suffering to facilitate proceedings, which without doubt is under the law. But the pertinent question is: who failed here to protect a small child? The parent, the caretaker, the mall supervisor, the officials or the public? No! In all honesty, the answer is: us! All of us! We are the real culprits here because of the lack of an effective system in place to protect a child in a situation like this!
Thank you His Majesty, the Sultan
But, thanks to our visionary leader His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, Oman has been recognized as the first country in the Middle East to record child well being and empowerment. In simple words, Oman is indeed a child safe country and is currently creating greater awareness on Children’s Rights and the need to provide/preserve a safe childhood for each and every child.
Need to issue the Executive Regulation
In 2014, the Child Law (No 22/2014) was promulgated in Oman, by a Royal Decree, channelised into many chapters under the aegis of the ministry of social development. The Child Law was one of the greatest affirmations of the Sultanate’s concern for children in Oman.
The next step that is eagerly awaited is the issuance of the Executive Regulation of the present Child Law by the ministry and the authorities concerned.The executive regulation will ensure set standards, operational, and practical, plus offer solutions to safe guard, protect and give a child its basic rights in the right form. Children have rights.
Every one of them; irrespective of age, colour, caste, creed or sex, in every society; let us ensure that these rights are in place and give them the space to enjoy their rights. An important aspect to consider is that there is a need to inculcate the values of the rights of children into all realms of the society so that caretakers, teachers, doctors, medical and hospital workers, or, rather the whole gamut of people who are involved in the care of children to be given the task of ensuring that the rights of the child are embodied in their day-to-day work and professional standards.
Need more Brave Hearts
Every cause needs an action. And for that to happen, we need people to spearhead those actions into positive reality. People with an open and brave heart and ready to take up a cause and fight it! And thanks to the advent of social media and technology, this has made the path and reach more accessible. Let us hope the youth take up initiatives, responsibilities with an active heart! Here is wishing for an era of more activists, of more people with hearts pulsating for the underprivileged and here’s hoping all of this spawn a more socially responsible community!
(*) Above story is based on a true incident.