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- Parents leave children under the care of their equally young siblings
- Negligence results in children dropping out of school & getting abused
- Defensive parents reportedly argue they also went through the same experience
- NWDC placed 24 abused children in various safety institutions
Acts of gender based violence and school drop outs for young girls in the Okavango are a direct result of child negligence by parents who stay at cattle posts leaving their children under the care of their equally young siblings.
This was shared by Gumare Women Against Rape branch manager Samson Magano who revealed that about twelve primary school going children who experienced child negligence from July last year to January 2023 have already dropped out of school.
“Most cases that we have experienced are that most children doing standard seven are left home as guardians for their young siblings while parents have gone to the fields during ploughing season while some reside at the cattle posts,” Samson revealed.
He indicated that this has led to children making their own decision on either to go to school or stay home. Magano reiterated that most of them end up being exposed to various GBV acts such as child molestation, rape and many other related issues.
“Some parents stay with children but tend to leave them unattended and go drinking depots on daily basis not knowing if children are going to school or not,” Magano said.
According to him, the trend has been ongoing in most inaccessible areas located within Okavango Delta, leading to most cases going unreported to relevant authorities.
He highlighted that during Kgotla meetings across the Okavango when addressing such issues, parents did not see any wrong in their practice as they argue that they also underwent went through the same experience.
In efforts to address the situation, Magano indicated that they have provided counseling for both the children and parents on the importance of leaving children unattended to. The organisation is also working with various stakeholders such as law enforcement, child protection unit and community leaders to help parents understand the dangers they expose their children to when left unattended.
He further raised concern over defilement cases in which children are mostly defiled by their relative, mostly fathers. He revealed that so far they have recorded three cases in which the minors were sexually abused by their fathers where one of them was a victim of her step-father and two of them victims of their biological fathers.
Magano complained that cultural practices continue to be the leading cause of such acts “During Kgotla meetings most parents said culturally if one has sexual intercourse with their daughter their cattle will increase in number, some said it will cleanse the family and remove bad luck,” revealed Magano however he rubbished such practices as just myths which abuse children’s rights.
He indicated that they have since held Kgotla meetings, conducted stake holder meetings and continue engaging with community leaders in order to dispel the myth of fathers having sexual intercourse with their minor children for luck.
Meanwhile when addressing the North West District Council meeting this week, Chairman Kebareeditse Ntsogotho revealed that the council has placed twenty four (24) children affected in cases of defilement, rape, child neglect and children living in difficult circumstances in various institutions across the country for safety.
According to him, Nine (9) children are placed in institutions outside the district; they are in SOS- Francistown, Tlokweng and Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre in Francistown whereas fifteen (15) are placed in the District at Lorato House and Women against Rape in Maun.
“These children are targeted to be the first batch of foster care program which was introduced in the district in December 2021. The Council intends to mobilise the community and stakeholders on foster care program by end of April, 2023. It is a program that will go a long way in helping the Council to improve child care as well as bring interventions on cases affecting children,” he noted.