Blantyre Synod Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has expressed concern with the rise of reported cases of violence against children in Mwanza as schools remain closed due to coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Program Manager for Securing Children’s Rights through Education and Protection (SCREP) project under Blantyre Synod’s education department, Geoffrey Kamanga made the observation during training for child protection committees drawn from the areas of traditional authorities (T/As) Govati and Kanduku in Mwanza.
Kamanga observed that the rising cases in violence against children may affect enrollment once schools open, saying: “We want to give them support on coordination among child protection structures in the communities so that they work together more vigilantly than before to protect the rights of children in their areas.”
He said a recent assessment conducted by the Synod upon closure of schools due to the pandemic, established that children, especially girls around Thambani and Futsa in the two T/As were facing a lot of challenges.
Kamanga cited child marriage, defilement, early pregnancies and child labour as some of the abuses children were facing, expressing fear that the development may lead to an increase in number of school dropouts in the district.
He said it was necessary that issues of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of children be eliminated in communities because they are a violation of child rights.
Secretary for Futsa Primary School Mother Group in the area of T/A Kanduku, Liness Jeluwasi commended Blantyre Synod for organizing the refresher training, saying it will go a long way in revamping the community structures.
“The orientation has given us more strength of sensitizing communities on the dangers of child abuse and encourage them to report to us when such incidents happen in the communities,” said Jeluwasi.
Mwanza District Social Welfare Officer, Aaron Macheka said the district has since registered 27 cases of violence against children from January this year, noting that the trend was worrisome.
“There are so many cases of this nature happening but some people in the community choose not to report them to relevant authorities for fear that the perpetrators may be jailed,” Macheka said.
Macheka said the orientation of the child protection committees would help in creating an amiable environment for reporting of such cases unlike before in the two T/As.
He, therefore, called on communities in the district to take a leading role in combating violence against children by reporting such cases to relevant authorities despite the victims not being their biological children so that perpetrators are brought to book.
The organisation conducted a similar training in December 2019 which attracted all local structures including school governance structures, patrons of child lead clubs and child protection workers.
The SCREP project is being implemented in Mwanza and Neno under the Blantyre Synod with support from NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) through Save the Children.