Child Abuse Rampant In Ngamiland

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Child labour and negligence are reported to be among the many cases of child abuse in the North West District. While Ngamiland has been at the forefront in child abuse cases, among them gender based violence on young people, rape and child marriages, the trend continues to worry authorities to date.

This has surfaced during the commemoration of The Day of the African Child in Maun recently held under the theme, ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children; Progress on Policy and Practices since 2013.’

Maun Administration Authority (MAA) Principal Social Welfare Officer, Kebaneilwe Leselamose lamented that some children in the district are denied the opportunity to a normal childhood of attending school and interact ing with their age mates. She said this puts the children at risk of harm and as they can never have a normal future.

A recent survey conducted in Bojanala areas in September 2021, revealed that that children are working in farms instead of being in school. These are usually children whose parents have worked in those farms their entire lifes.

The survey covered areas that include Xuoxao, Daonara, Ditshiping and Xaxaba, Chana, Mawana, Kaure, Kangoro and Samedupi.

The survey further exposed a disturbing trend of young girls that drop out of school due to pregnancy in these areas. Eleven dropout cases were recorded, 9 Xuoxao, 1 from Daunara and 1 from Samedumpi. The students reportedly went to stay with their parents at farms where they are employed.  

“Parents force their children to drop out of school and make them work at these farms on their behalf though they are the ones receiving the monthly payments,” Leselamose revealed.

Leselamose noted that they however do not have such cases registered as the act is done covertly. She said child labour is also seen where children who did not perform well at school are sent off to work as domestic workers or gardeners instead of supporting the child and finding ways to send them back to school. The practice she said also leads to cases of sexual violence.

Leselamose also mentioned that child negligence as another harmful practice to a child’s well-being in the district. She said there are cases where the older child is given the responsibility to take care of the younger siblings while their parents are on drinking sprees or at the farms working.

She added that there are also some cultural practices that tend to perpetuate child abuse like child marriages. “This practice affects the child and most of them end up dropping out of school because they have to be performing their wife duties at home,” she lamented.

Leselamose added that Gender Based Violence in homes also affects the mental health of a child leading to depression.  

She indicated that her department is making efforts to curb such practices by encouraging parents to perform their parenting role, adding they are also working with other stakeholders like police on issues of rape, child negligence and also child marriages.

Head of Gender and Child Protection Unit Sub Inspector Segopolo Lefatshe has said their office focuses on counseling children who are victims of violence, as well as delinquents with a view  to make them feel good about themselves and have a future.

He added that they also try to teach child protection committees in schools on how to address and report cases of child violence, negligence or labour.

Lefatshe noted that they are faced with challenges of defilement cases that go unreported until the time when the child has to give birth. According to him, it is only the nurses who would report such cases to the police upon noticing that the mother is under age. Lefatshe has since encouraged parents to have a good relationship with their children, so that they can open up when they have been sexually abused.

Meanwhile, Maun Chief Magistrate Thebeetsile Mulalu raised concern about defilement and child rape cases which he said are on the rise in his area of jurisdiction. Mulalu indicated that such cases are usually given priority, and finished without delay.

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