By Tione Andsen
World Vision Malawi (WVM) has said violence against children remains a major threat and driver of children vulnerability to long term poverty.
WVM National Director, Hazel Nyathi said this Tuesday during a teleconference Press briefing in Lilongwe as part of the commemoration of Day of the African Child, 2020 under the theme Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa.
She said it was for this reason that WVM in 2016 launched a campaign on ending all forms of violence against children.
“Even though most countries have pledged to protect children, observations on the ground show that children, young women and men remain unrepresented, exposed to violence, robbing them of their childhood, hence compromising their future development,” Nyathi explained.
The National Director added that against this backdrop that WVM finds the 2020 theme very timely and relevant if a promising future was to be secured for children, young women and men.
She said efforts to protect children from harm including child marriages, rape and gender-based violence, deprivation to education, and economic participation will not yield positive outcomes without child-friendly justice.
Nyathi pointed out that all vacancies for lawyers at the Legal Aid Bureau should be filled and have offices established in all districts as opposed to the current situation.
“Currently, the understaffed Legal Aid Bureau was confined in four cities. There was a need to recruit more paralegals to support legal aid and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to address the challenge of lack of legal representation,” she noted.
Nyathi added that there was a need to address police violence against children through special training of police on child-friendly techniques for dealing with children generally and to introduce guidelines eliminating the use of police “deadly force” on children.
“We advocate that children’s rights are secured at all stages of judicial and extrajudicial procedures including the promotion of their rights to information, appropriate representation and participation of children. An effective child-friendly justice system can act as a deterrent and remedial measure to young women and men who are vulnerable to child rights abuses,” National Director viewed.
Children, Adolescent Girls and Boys account for over 50 per cent of the country’s population.
However such population dividends can only be truly achieved if the young women and men are well nurtured and their interests and protection are placed at the centre of the social, economic and political discourse.
WVM strategy places a special focus on securing the holistic well-being of young women and men. When children, young women and men are fully protected and engaged, only then a process of building a brighter future the continent.