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article imageMalawi president: We need children rights, not gay rights Special

By Chancy Namadzunda     Jun 18, 2010 in World
Lilongwe - Malawi president and Africa Union Chair Bingu wa Mutharika said donors should advocate, support and promote rights of children who are critical to the country’s future that fight for gay rights.
Mutharika, who was presiding over the commemoration of the day of the African Child and the launch of Anti-Child trafficking campaign in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, said children need more assistance in terms of schools, health and welfare.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is, “Planning and Budgeting for Children: Our Collective Responsibility.”
“The role of protecting children is for everyone. I want religious leaders and civil society groups to speak on the rights of children, not a man marrying a man. Donors should stop assisting confuses people (gays). Why fight for gay rights instead of children’s rights?” he said
Donors recently threatened to cut aid for Malawi because of the conviction and jailing of a gay couple (Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga) to 14 years for "gross indecency and unnatural acts" but were later pardoned during a visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after spending 14 days in jail.
“I want to challenge you, if you are human, support children to go to school. If you are human, let us support our health system to reduce child mortality. If I am wrong, then I am wrong but this is Malawi,” he Mutharika.
He also called for collective measures to tighten security in boarders to mitigate child trafficking during the current World Cup taking place in South Africa.
According to Save the Children press release, almost 4.5 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa die before their fifth birthday and it accounts for half of the almost nine million child deaths globally.
“This is down from 12 million global total in 1990, but still way off the two-thirds reduction promised in the goals especially on child mortality,” reads part of the release signed by Michael McGrath, Save the Children Country Director for Malawi.
Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) is carrying out a project aimed at fighting child trafficking and prostitution as the World Cup approaches. The project is themed; “Inclusive sustainable child labour and trafficking reduction in Southern Africa.”
According to FISD Director of Programmes Moses Chirimba, the project which is being financed by the Help a Child Organization from Netherlands is being carried out in five border districts of Malawi which are the source, recruitment and transportation centers.
“People from these areas have no knowledge as to what child trafficking is all about. Parents are easily tricked by some people that they will offer the children some work but they end up into forced prostitution and criminal gangs.
“We want to sensitize them on the dangers of giving out their children without knowing exactly where they are being taken to,” said Chirambo.
He said FISD is working hand in hand with the district social welfare offices, district youth offices, police, the immigration department, judiciary and youth organizations at the grassroots levels.
According to a 2008 report titled, “The extent and magnitude of child trafficking in Malawi” by David Mkwambisi, Child trafficking in Malawi – is fuelled by poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness, lack of resources and weak policies.
Chirambo said Malawi has a weak legislation on child trafficking and prostitution of which it is difficult to deal with the cases.
“We pray that the draft bill which has already been formulated by the government will be approved by parliament,” he said.
Trafficking of persons is not new in Malawi. There are a lot of child trafficking cases in the local media where people have been prosecuted and fined for trying to smuggle children outside the country.
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