Parents of children with albinism call for wider awareness on child rights

By Evance Chisiano

Parents of children with albinism in Blantyre have called on Malawi Law Commission to widen child rights education through various ways and means that should help to deepen Malawians’ understanding on Child Care, Protection and Justice Act and other laws that protect children with albinism against crime.

The parents made the call in Lunzu in Blantyre on Saturday when Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa, a non-profiting organization dedicated to child protection, organised a training for parents of children with albinism to discuss laws that protect children against violence and other social ills.

After listening to the Malawi Law Commission presentation, one of the parents, Debora Wind, said Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa, the Malawi Law Commission and partners should widen awareness on Child Care, Just and Protect Act and other laws that shall help citizens to realise that children with albinism were equally entitled to their full rights to live and be protected like other children.

“We wish this awareness could be put across Malawi so that a lot of people can fully understand laws that protect children, including those with albinism. I know ignorance of the law is not defence but I know that some of the crimes against children with albinism are committed out of ignorance of the law,” she added.

Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa engaged the Malawi Law Commission to sensetise parents of children with albinism on laws that protect children against violence, and some areas in the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act were lengthily discussed for better understanding.

Chief Civic Education Officer for Malawi Law Commission, Gills Msiska, said the commission reaches out to Malawians with child rights education through many avenues such as Joint Programme for Girls Education (JPGE) but said this was not enough because Malawians need more understanding on laws that protect children.

“We work with different partners to educate Malawians on laws that protect children but we know there is a lot to be done for people to fully understand to respect rights of children,” he added.

The Malawi Law Commission, in partnership with Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa, has been in Blantyre, Mangochi, Salima, Dedza and Kasungu to raise awareness on child rights through UNICEF supported JPGE programme.

Ujamaa Pamodzi Country Director Martin Ndirangu said the organization is currently implementing a project to do with child rights with focus on children with albinism in Mchinji, Lilongwe and Mzimba, apart from Blantyre.

“We equip children with albinism with knowledge on child rights and skills to protect themselves from violence and we also train parents so that they should have knowledge on child rights,” he added.

National Coordinator for Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Maynard Zakariya, hailed Ujamaa Africa, the Malawi Lawi Commission and other partners for reaching out to children with albinism and parents with wider knowledge on child rights.

He, however, said there was need to roll out civic education on child rights, adding that most of the attacks and other forms of crime against people with albinism are done based on myths and misconceptions.

“More need to be done. We are ready to work with partners until rights of people with albinism are fully respected,” Zakariya added and called for more support from law enforcing agents to deal with crimes against people with albinism in Malawi.

District Social Welfare Office in Blantyre, Malawi Police Service through Community Policing sector, and District Education Office made their presentations in Lunzu on issues of child development, parenting, child protection, child education and other areas of child welfare.