Lack of resources affecting child protection
Child Rights Activist Esmie Tembenu has expressed concern over lack of resources to harmonise child protection legislation in the country.
According to Tembenu, lack of juvenile rehabilitation centres in the country.
“In Malawi we only have two reformatory centres, which are Mpemba and Chilwa. So when a child has committed a crime in Chitipa or Nsanje, the child deserves to be in a reformatory centre which is difficult with the current situation,” she said.
Tembenu, however, suggested that each region should have at least one juvenile reformatory centre, contrary to the present situation where the institutions are just in two regions, the South and East.
“Again we talk of child protection, the child related laws are talking of foster care and foster care provision, but how many foster parents do we have in Malawi to be keeping children who are vulnerable or who are victims?” she queried.
Reacting to the concerns, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Disability, Children and Social Welfare, Mary Shawa conceded that there was that gap.
“Mpemba and Chilwa are far from Centre or North. There was one that we constructed in Mzuzu, unfortunately, we cannot use it because it was constructed like a prison. We are trying to work out how we can change it so that it can accommodate the children the way international regulations recommend,” said Shawa.
On foster care and foster care provision that the Act demands, Shawa highlighted that the whole country has parents in the communities.
“The Act says the best place for a child to be rehabilitated, is within the community. So anybody who is a guardian to any child is a foster parent,” added Shawa.
Some of the child protection legislations in the country include; Child Care, Protection and Justice Act of 2010, Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act of 2015 and Trafficking in Persons Act of 2015.
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