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‘Birth certificates vital in child abuse fight’

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LANGWE— Some offenders are going scot-free

By Mike Mataka:

The government has said birth certificates are key to stemming cases of child abuse, including trafficking, in the country.

National Registration Principal Officer Rodrick Langwe said the document was also key to addressing challenges of unprepared for pregnancy and early marriage.

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“Some offenders are going scot-free due to lack of evidence on the real age of a child. Fortunately, we have the birth registration [process] which will go a long way in preventing children from abuse in the form of child labour and marriages as authorities can easily monitor the situation through the certificate.

“The certificate that is issued after the registration process also enables stakeholders to know crucial details like the child’s parents, age and home village,” Langwe said.

He said this when Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) launched a birth registration campaign in Mulanje District.

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Genet Project Officer Tadala Boti concurred with Langwe, saying some individuals and organisations take advantage of poor documentation systems to perpetuate vices such as child marriage.

“Offenders connive with other people to cheat on age; as such, children, especially girls, get exploited. Our research indicates that many children in the district are not registered at birth; as such, these kids are prone to abuse in future.

“As I am speaking, many cases of child marriage are being discontinued after offenders connive with others, including the victim, to lie about her real age,” Boti said

Mulanje District Commissioner Starch Mwambiwa said the council and stakeholders such as traditional leaders had joined hands to address challenges associated with poor documentation.

“One of the strategies include ensuring that all children born in the district are registered at birth. We are also making sure that those that do not have certificates have them,” he said.

Genet is implementing the project in partnership with Plan Malawi, courtesy of German Federal Ministry funds.

Senior chiefs Chikumbu and Mthiramanja of Mulanje are catchment areas for the initiative.

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