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Malawi government failing on child rights

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nationalChild Justice Magistrate Esmie Tembenu says Malawi is failing to protect the rights of street children in practice even in the face of guiding legal framework.

Tembenu, who is also a Board Chairperson of a child-based civil rights organisation, Eye of the Child, said this in an interview with The Daily Times.

“Malawi as a country is trying [as] it has enacted child-related laws, but practically, we are failing as we do not have resources needed for the implementation of these laws and policies put in place to prevent abuses and protect the children, especially those in the streets” Tembenu said.

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Analysts have said the streets of Malawi are infested with children.

“Some of these children are actually sent by their guardians to go and beg, while others are orphaned,” said Tembenu.

Research has shown that these children become vulnerable to all sorts of abuse as they do not have anyone to take care of them.

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The magistrate agreed that some of the children in the streets are indeed victims of various abuses including child trafficking and failed marriages.

“Some of the children in the streets are trafficked from the villages after being sent to the towns to work for the traffickers by begging in the streets,” said Tembenu, adding that some girls are even sent to do prostitution.

She further said that although efforts are being made to send these children to reformatory centres like Mpemba, Samaritan Trust, Chisomo Children’s Home and Steka, some of these children run away from these homes and go back to the streets since they are used to begging. In some cases, these reformatory centres do not have enough resources to take care of the children.

Tembenu said the best way to deal with this problem is for parents to exercise their responsibility of raising children, not sending out children to beg in the streets.

“Children grow better in a home than in the streets or a reformatory centre. Furthermore, when parents divorce, they should agree on who and how the child will be taken care of, and thirdly there is need for more child care facilities,” she said.

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