The state-run child rescue hotline monitored exploitations of children during the first round of parliamentary elections in different cities, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) announced in a statement.
Children were used to distribute banners for candidates for a monetary profit EGP 50 per day, according to the NCCM report. It also added that children were monitored wearing shirts with candidates’ pictures, without stating further details about the constituency. Children were also witnessed while distributing flyers for lists running in the parliament, the NCCM report added, without further stating details on lists affiliations.
Ahmed Hanafy, head of the child rescue hotline, told Daily News Egypt: “We are currently preparing to send the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) a full report on the violations witnessed on both days for further investigation.”
According to Hanafy, the rescue unit also had representatives for field assistance at polling stations and providing immediate interference in case of any violations witnessed across the 14 governorates in the first round.
Chief of the NCCM Hala Abou Aly said, in response to the incidents: “There is a huge difference between positively engaging children and exploiting them.”
“Political exploitation of children threatens their security, ethics, and also health, instead of empowering them,” she added.
During the presidential elections of 2012, child exploitation for candidates was more explicit and in larger numbers, especially among Islamist candidates.
Ahmed Moselhy, a lawyer specialised in child abuse, told Daily News Egypt: “The role of national institutions in defending children’s rights is not effective.”
“The NCCM is mandated to send any violation case to the general prosecutor for further investigation, but that does not happen,” he claimed.
A few days before the start of the first round of parliamentary elections, a car belonging to a candidate in the Gharbeya governorate ran over a four-year-old child. The candidate was released with no charges on Friday after police investigations.
The two days of voting witnessed further violations, including against journalists, with upwards of 44 cases.
Moreover, children are also exploited in Egypt in fields other than politics, according to a United Nations Development Programme report published in late August.
Nearly half of children aged between three to four years old were exposed to physical abuse during 2014. It also found that 91% of children aged between one and 14 years of age were exposed to psychological abuse.