As South Africa commemorates Human Rights Month, Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, has emphasised the importance of protecting children rights.
The Constitution and the Children’s Act advocate for children’s rights to be regarded as basic services including the rights to life, shelter, protection, maintenance, education, social security and parenting.
“Human rights cannot be complete as long as global trends replicate our country as a centre of violence, rape, abduction, teenage pregnancy, gangsterism and many forms of social ills and abuse encountered by our children on a daily basis,” Zulu said.
The Minister was addressing a National Roundtable Webinar on Child Killings on Friday, which she hosted in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“The 2019/2020 Annual Crime Statistics presented by the South African Police Service showed that child murders dropped by 7% meanwhile 943 children were murdered and more than 24 000 were sexually assaulted in South Africa.
“This states we are an angry and wounded society that needs urgent intervention…. We need to do everything we can, prevention is better than cure,” Zulu said.
She said all sectors of society need to reflect and introspect on what is not being done right in the cause of prevention.
“Child killings cannot be taken lightly as many children lose their lives and future during early stages in their lives, this paints a very bleak picture for us as a country,” the Minister said.
Zulu said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the high levels of inequality, poverty, unemployment and other social ills impacting on the wellbeing of children.
“As a result, families wherein children reside were hard hit by the social economic conditions ranging from gender based violence (GBV) and femicide, substance abuse as well as job losses.
“Children and families who are already vulnerable due to socio economic exclusion or those living in crowded setting become more vulnerable due to the manifestations of physical and emotional abuse, neglect or the death of family members
“Most concerning is when children die and are hurt at the hands of those they trust most as such as their parents, caregivers and family members,” she said.
The Minister expressed concern at children losing their lives for ritual purposes. “This is an indication that something is completely wrong with our society as we are often unable to take care and protect our children,” she said.
The webinar formed part of the National Human Rights Month commemorations which seek to highlight and address the plight of children and their rights to protection.
This year, South Africa is observing the month under the theme: “The year of Charlotte Maxeke: promoting human rights in the age of COVID-19”.