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Malawi government worried with orphan centres

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The Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare has said it is of the view that the country should not have any orphanages because children are best raised within a normal family set-up.

Principal Secretary (PS) in the ministry, Mary Shawa, said the ministry has received a number of cases pertaining to abuse of children living in different orphanages across the country, a development she has described as worrisome.

“We have received a number of cases of abuses, but let me point out that the laws of Malawi do indicate that the best place to raise a child is the family and the child must be raised where there are relatives. If all the parents are gone, people should find foster parents for the children,” she said.

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Shawa said the ministry is failing to bring to book some culprits who have been abusing children, especially orphans, because of what she thinks are unfavourable legal procedures.

According to the PS, when they have the culprits arrested or their orphanages closed down, the owners get bail and reopen the orphanages.

“In Malawi, we have 105 orphanages; we have visited them and the majority of them do not have the necessary facilities to be an orphanage; they actually require renovations. We are aware of the abuses and it is because at the orphanage, there is nobody who cares, there is no relative it is only the home mothers, who are not even the children’s relative,” she explained.

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Reports from the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) indicate that over 10,000 children are living dangerously in the country’s orphanages.

Eye of the Child has many times also expressed worry over the numerous abuses including sexual harassment that children living in orphanages are facing.

Eye of the Child Executive Director, Maxwell Matewere, said although the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act was adopted in 2010 giving mandate to the Ministry of Gender to develop and gazette regulations for management of orphanages, nothing has happened.

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