Southern Africa countries outline key elements for a safer environment for children

A world where every child could grow healthy, feeling protected, going to school and benefit from every opportunity, or to summarize, enjoy life in all its fullness, not fearing any sort of abuse is underway, and those reasons joined countries from Southern Africa region in the Portuguese speaking country Mozambique for a week long meeting.

Mozambique shared in the meeting, that 76 per cent of children victims of abuse are girls and that in two years the number of incidents against children was at 279 in two provinces it operates namely, Gaza in southern region and Zambezia in central region of the country.

The meeting had among its major priorities to strengthen the key elements to make the world better for children, so that it can be free from rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence and early marriage, the top four major incidents reported in the areas where the project operates.

As a matter of facts, other regional countries also shared the same concerns, Democratic Republic of Congo for instance, has a range of concerns that vary from region to region, children in mining in one side, early marriage in another, rapes in conflict zones and street children in other areas.

Participant countries exchanged experience collected from their regions to help improve one another, for instance as a recommendation, Zimbabwe outlined that it is important to advocate in order to have a strong police force, in terms of transport and skilled staff, so that the system can be in conditions to address the issues effortlessly.

Tholakele Zulu-Solomon brought her experience from South Africa, saying that the bureau where children can report the incidents should be child friendly, so that victims can feel encouraged and safe to approach the authorities or other people they trust to properly report an incident if they feel cared for.

The regional Christian Commitment representative, Siyani Zimba, appointed to an ‘important aspect’ in the view of the participants, the protection of staff, who facilitates the process between the victims and the legal authorities.

“There is a need for us to assure that staff is protected, imagined if, because of his work a certain family blames him for having their relative arrested, he could be vulnerable to anything” said Zimba.

The Global Center representative, Faith Jere,said that at the end of the meeting all countries should be able to have strengthened the 3 key elements and put them in place for an effective protection of children.

“What is recommended is to prevent, children from suffering any sort of abuse, in case it happens, we have to protect and from there, there must be restoration, that means, the victim has to be given all sort of legally and psycho support in order to have her/him integrated to social life” said, Faith Jere.

Among the projects under implementation in the region, Lesotho for instance shared that it has a program to fight bullying at schools, which is highly contributing for an attractive learning environment.

“What we have seen is that, the number of children who missed lessons because of bullying has been reducing, as a result of trainings we provided to children on how to deal with bullying. Now they know that they have to keep away if the see bullying and report to their teachers, who later deal with the perpetrators” Moabert Ramatso from Lesotho said.

The weeklong meeting brought Child Protection experts from support offices included countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Angola, and Zimbabwe who exchange experience and redesigned the best strategies to better address child protection issues.