Child Rights should be protected: Gvt

Review and Mail Writers

Government has warned private entities and individuals to refrain from parading children who are victims of abuse and in need of care and protection on any digital or print platform as it is in violation of their privacy and undermines their right to protection.

Zimbabwe has recorded as significant rise in reported cases of teenage pregnancies since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a scenario which many NGOs say promoted increased idleness, poverty and limited access to contraceptives amongst the girl child.

Authorities in the country say more than a third of girls across the country are married before they reach 18 and in most cases, most of these girls are underage.

In a statement, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare noted with concern the rise of sexual abuse cases and teenage pregnancies and said it was working in collaboration with other government line ministries and PVOs in the child protection sector to enhance the prevention of abuse, early identification and timely response.

“The ministry would like to appreciate the role played by PVOs and individuals in the identification of child protection violations in the communities and subsequent referral to statutory entities for case management. However, it has been noted that some children are being paraded on social media in violation of their right to privacy and confidentiality,” read the statement.

“The Ministry does not condone such practices. Parading children in need of care and protection on any gatherings and publishing information leading to the identification of a child in need of care and protection on any digital or print platform is a serious violation of their privacy and it undermines their right to protection. It causes trauma, complicates recovery and discourages future disclosure of abuse.

“Interviewing children and reporting their issues must be done in a way that serves public interest, without compromising their right to privacy and confidentiality. The best interest of the child is of paramount importance and due consideration must be regarded at all times.”

The ministry further called on all citizens to report all cases of abuse to the responsible authorities or the police and ensure that the rights of all victims of abuse are upheld.

“The Ministry wishes to advise private entities and individuals to exercise caution and act in a manner that does not endanger the lives of children. The Ministry further urges the nation to report all cases of any form of actual and suspected abuse to the nearest Department of Social Development Office or Police station,” the statement read.

“Recognition and upholding of child rights is a must in child protection service provision. This entails paying special attention to each child’s right to privacy and confidentiality when interviewing and reporting on children.”

Cases of rape, early child marriages and other forms of abuse have been on the rise recently across different communities and many non-governmental organisations and individuals have been calling for the need to raise awareness and increase assistance to the survivors of sexual abuse.

In a report released by the Women’s Affairs ministry, nearly 5000 teenage girls became pregnant between January and February in 2021 while about 1800 entered early marriages during the same period.

Those advocating for the right of the girl child have applauded government for the new law that is expected to criminalise child marriages in Zimbabwe.

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