Traditional leaders in Mzimba District have been urged to review and scrap off harmful cultural practices which violate children’s rights.
Chairperson for M’mbelwa District Council, Dan Nkosi made the call Saturday during commemoration of the Day of the African Child at the headquarters of Traditional Authority (TA) Kampingo Sibande.
Nkosi observed that some norms, traditions and cultural practices have outlived their values and importance, especially in times of democracy when people’s rights, including those of children have to be protected.
He described the culture of ‘lobola’ as a common retrogressive and archaic practice which parents exercise to drive their girls to child marriages for dowry wealth for economic income.
“A culture of ‘Lobola’ is one of the many harmful cultural practices which abuse rights of children, especially little girls who are pushed into child marriages instead of being in school,” said Nkosi.
Nkosi then advised the traditional leaders to also consider framing punitive by-laws to curb the problem and promote education of girls.
He assured the people that the council would continue implementing children and youth friendly programs aimed at promoting their welfare so that children enjoy equal access to quality education.
TA Kampingo Sibande appealed to his subjects to report to relevant authorities all cases related to abuse of children’s rights.
The Chief observed that violation of child rights, through defilement, forced and child marriages are common in his area but most of them go unreported because families where the victims come from want to protect the perpetrators from the long arm of the law.
“I urge you to instantly report any cases of child rights abuse to relevant authorities, such as members from community policing forums, school management committees and parent teachers association for appropriate action,” he said.
He expressed concern over the tendency by many youths who migrate to the Republic of South African (RSA) in search of greener pastures soon after getting married.
He observed that the tendency of dumping wives and children was also blamed for creating room for children abuses.
“Most women do not have the capacity to meet all the basic needs of children who are left with marriage as the only option for survival,” observed Kampingo Sibande.
An official of Mzimba South District Education Manager’s office, Mighty Kayoyo asked community members to always consider children’s rights first when disasters strike.
Kayoyo said children are the ones who feel the pinch of disasters due to their nature of vulnerability.
“We must always ensure that children’s rights are prioritized when disasters strike. For instance, education must not be interrupted,” said Kayoyo.
The day was commemorated under the Theme: ‘Humanitarian Actions in Africa: Children’s Rights First’.
During the function, primary school learners, through performances, revealed different forms of rights abuses inflicted on them, both at school and at home.
The learners spelt out defilement, child marriages, teachers dating learners, foul language from parents and teachers and child labor, asking for protection from authorities.
By Ed-Grant Ndoza