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1 500 children sexually assaulted

2021-09-30  Staff Reporter

1 500 children sexually assaulted
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About 1 566 children were sexually violated while 883 were physically abused between 2019 and 2021. Gender minister Doreen Sioka made the revelations this week during a consultative meeting to amend the Child Care and Protection Act (No. 3 of 2015) at Ongwediva.

Sioka further announced 1 587 children were dumped, while 293 were abandoned during the same period. In addition, social workers attached to the gender-based violence protection unit offered psychosocial support to 3 112 children and their families. 

The data excludes services delivered to children who are not enrolled in gender-based violence units. Although the Act was enacted in 2015, it only became operational in 2019 when the regulations were gazetted. 

Sioka said during the short period of implementation of the Act, there were several challenges observed which necessitated the amendment.

One of the challenges included social workers having to attend to the spate of violence perpetrated against children. The current ratio is that there is one social worker for at least 13 000 children throughout the country, as there are only 83 social workers in the ministry. The minister stressed there is an urgent need to expand the number to at least 242 social workers or at least one social worker for each constituency. 

Currently, a single social worker covers two or three constituencies. “This means that social workers can only deal with crises and cannot probe deeper into cases,” said Sioka. 

“This makes it hard to deliver comprehensive services and complete their investigations into allegations of child abuse and exploitation within the time frame specified.” The minister said the ministry also intends to increase the child’s voice in matters of custody access and disputes and guardianship. She said the children’s voice in such battles is limited and children are often used as pawns between their parents and caregivers. 

Sioka said it is also the ministry’s wish to expand regulation on the registration of child protection organisations to ensure that the right organisations are registered and designated to provide services to children. 

Equally, there is also a need to expand on the provision of detrimental cultural behaviour. This will allow the ministry to identify practices that are harmful to the children’s wellbeing. In addition, the minister said the Child Care Protection Act excludes surrogacy, yet there are many children born through surrogacy, but there are no provisions to safeguard these children.  “There must be measures providing for the establishment of formal agreements between parties involved in surrogacy, defining the relationship between children born of such procedures and the commissioning parents,” said Sioka.

2021-09-30  Staff Reporter

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