For the first time in its history, Lesotho, through the Ministry of Social Development acknowledged and celebrated the International Day of the Girl-Child at a ceremony held in Quthing on Monday this week.
According to Thato Masopha, the Senior Child Welfare Officer in the ministry, the day was marked as a day to celebrate and teach the girl-child of their value in the society.
“This day was marked by the United Nations (UN) and first celebrated in 2012 and since then Lesotho has been unenthusiastic to celebrate it until now when the Quthing district takes the lead,” Masopha said.
“The day serves as a response to what culture has taught us about girls and women. Many cultures particularly the African cultures-including Lesotho- define girls as minors against boys. We are therefore, raising an awareness that girls should also see that they have worth like boys,” she added.
Stressing the challenges faced by girls, she mentioned that girls mostly fall victim to human trafficking, they are the ones who suffer most in teenage pregnancy, exploitation and child labour.
“Girls lack confidence which makes them vulnerable in most cases hence we rendered this day in order to rebuild their confidence so that we can have girls who will stand up for themselves and become leaders in this country,” she added.
She also mentioned that Quthing as a district is faced with challenges when it comes to the bright future of girls and kids at large. She disclosed that teenage pregnancy and HIV seem to be on a rise in the district.
Furthermore, parental care is also a huge influence to prostitution taking place amongst girls at a young age since many grow up without fatherly love which causes them to find solace mostly older men who flaunt love and yet use them to satisfy their sexual urges.
“Girls are sold in many ways but in our culture alone girls are sold and no one does a thing about it because it feels normal to our people,” she explained.
She stressed the Sesotho culture where parents will demand high monetary figures for their daughters’ lobola in order to give them out in marriage to often older men. She added that the money is not even given to the new couple but used by the parents.
The event was held in Quthing district and was organised and supported by World Vision Lesotho, UNFPA, Help Lesotho and the Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS).