Harmful cultural practices against children under scrutiny

 Although South Africa has recorded reasonable strides to protect children, they still face many harmful practices in the name of culture.

It is for this reason that the Department of Social Development decided to put a spotlight on cultural harmful practices that aim to undermine the care and protection of children. These harmful practices in South Africa include ukuthwalwa (forced marriage) and ukwaluka.  

In its report, titled: Situation Analysis on Children, Statistics South Africa reveals that between the years, 2006 and 2021, South Africa recorded about 207 child marriages which took place in 2021, and 37 of these were civil marriages and 19 were highlighted as customary solemnised marriages. 

The report also reveals that children are still mostly vulnerable to violence. According to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, at least 34 initiates died during this past initiation season in the Eastern CapeProvince.

To address this and other challenges impacting negatively on children, in its legislative mandate as outlined in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, which seeks to raise awareness and provide guidance on the promotion of the rights of children; the Department of Social Development will on Saturday, 8 June, commemorate international Children’s day at KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga Province. 

International Children’s Day, is commemorated on 1 June but due to elections was moved to 8 June. The day will be commemorated under the theme: “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice”, and in in line with the 365 Days Child Protection Programme. 

The World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, proclaimed June 1 to be International Children’s Day in 1925, which is observed every year. After the conference, different governments globally, declared the day as Children’s Day to draw attention to children’s issues.  

The department is focusing on the prevention of harmful cultural practice and safety of boys at initiation schools. Children and parents will on the day be educated and have an opportunity to express their views about other harmful practices, such as ukuthwala.  

The commemoration will in addition promote children’s right to participation, raise awareness on amongst others, child abuse, neglect and exploitation, brutal child killings while capacitating children on how to report child abuse related cases.  

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