The Day of the Namibian Child is not as celebrated as it should be – and it is yearly losing its relevance. All this can be attributed to the concerns that children in Namibia still face inimical challenges they faced five to 10 years ago. They are constant victims of the rape and abuse epidemic the country faces, and the lack of policy implementation by the government is a driving factor in the loss of interest in the Day of the Namibian Child.
While this day ought to be joyous for all children, several children either find themselves on the streets as child labourers, while others are victims of harmful practices.
The Day of the Namibian Child is celebrated to honour the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by Namibia in 1990. The theme for this year is ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’.
Namibia boasts several domestic and international policies on issues affecting children, which, among others, constitute the Child Care and Protection Act, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the country has been criticised for the lack of implementation.
The country currently faces a child rape and abuse epidemic, with news of child rape being reported almost daily. The most recent report was of a man, accused of raping 15 underage boys.
While, the Child Care and Protection Act, among others, on a policy level, addresses issues on protective measures for children against harmful, exploitative and hazardous practices, children in Namibia continue to be at the receiving end of child poverty, rape and violence.
Child poverty the root of all evil
The different domestic and international policies, adopted and ratified by Namibia, serve as universal calls for action to end poverty and place emphasis on the social welfare of children.
Abundant children constitute the devastating statistic of 1.6 million Namibians that live in poverty, as cited by the World Bank.
With children being at the receiving end of child poverty, communities are forced to see them as an escape by turning to harmful practices, such as child labour and rape (marriage) to receive a little economic gain and mediate their economic positions.
Ending poverty in all its forms, which is goal 1 of the SDGs, will be critical in realising the implementation of policies in Namibia and ending detrimental harmful practices against children. Criminalising harmful practices, such as child labour and rape, needs to sturdily be accompanied by informing and educating Namibian communities on the different forms of child labour and rape (marriage).
The future of the Namibian Child
Solving the challenges Namibian children
face, tackling child labour and rape (marriage), implementing policies and having children at the forefront of Namibia are the only routes we can travel to bring back the relevance, joy and celebration of the Day of the Namibian Child.
Despite the challenges Namibian children face today, it has become our common mission to be vocal about these concerns.
While the policies the country has are great, we need to be at the lead in advocating for the implementation of these policies for the welfare of children all over Namibia.
Child poverty may have increased due to the vast challenges the country is facing.
However, recent developments in the country provide hope for a more prosperous and safer Namibia. Developments concerning the extraction of the sun, through green hydrogen projects and oil discoveries need to supplement the Namibian child and provide social protection to all Namibians – whether through education, healthcare or security and protection. The different civil society organisations working with the government have also proven to have a meaningful impact on the lives of ample children.
However, more needs to be done to have the Namibian child at the centre of these vast activities and programmes.
The present and future belong to every Namibian child.
*Rivaldo Kavanga is a member of the Children’s Parliament and a first-year law student at the University of Namibia.