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article imageMalawi parliament passes Child Protection Bill Special

By Chancy Namadzunda     Jun 29, 2010 in World
Lilongwe - The Malawi Parliament has passed the Child Care, Protection and Justice Bill number 7 of 2010 which was tabled by Gender, Women and Child welfare Minister, Patricia Kaliati.
The bill which outlines responsibilities and roles of parents on how to raise their children in their respective homes, addresses issues of child abduction, trafficking, harmful cultural practices, and it recognizes principles that are in the best interest of children.
However, some parliamentarians felt that the bill was more western because some provisions are in conflict with the country’s “economic and cultural realities.”
The bill also mandates foster parents to produce a postmortem and medical report in a case where a foster child dies before burial is held.
“Malawi is located to the east of Central Africa and not to the east of Europe. We need to make some necessary departures from the way our friends in Europe do things.
“Are we serious, if parents are punished for asking their children to feed goats, assisting them on tobacco work or for bringing up their children in that way? Are we saying children should not be whipped in our homes,” queried Henry Phoya, Blantyre Rural East MP and also former Minister of Justice.
The legislation comes at a time when a report on labour standards has shown that there are 1.4 million child workers in Malawi, especially in tea plantations and domestic servitude.
The Ministry of Labour report indicates that the situation is worse in the rural areas than in provincial towns.
"Forty-one percent of children younger than 15 years of age were working part of full time, while 78 percent of rural children between 10 and 14 old worked at least part time in their parent’s farms
"Most of the child labour is found in tobacco farms, herding cattle, fishing industry, street vending and domestic servitude, particularly for girls," reads part of the report.
Foundation of Irrigation and Sustainable Development Moses Chirambo, whose organization is implementing a programme to eliminate child work and trafficking, has recommended parliament for passing the bill saying children are being exploited in the country.
The project themed; “Inclusive sustainable child labour and trafficking reduction in Southern Africa” is being financed by the Help a Child Organization from Netherlands, and is being carried out in five border districts of Malawi which are the source, recruitment and transportation centers.
"Children are being employed in houses and estates in exchange of clothes. This bill gives total care for children,” he said.
He said the extent and magnitude of child exploitation in Malawi has been fuelled by poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness, lack of resources and weak policies.
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