By Kaya 959 News
As the country commemorates Child Protection Week, there are growing calls for communities to do more to protect children.
Chairperson of the Select Committee on Health and Social Services, Maurencia Gillion said it is important to remember the impact the pandemic has had on the lives of children.
This year’s theme for the annual event is “Let us protect children during COVID-19 and Beyond”
Gillion said children need to be prioritised at all times as they are amongst the vulnerable groups in society. This week the rights of children are placed under the spotlight to create awareness about their rights.
“Children need to be protected against any form of abuse and as a country and society we need to ensure maximum protection of the safe physical, emotional and mental well-being of our children,” Gillion said.
She said the recent reports in the public domain of children committing suicide is an indication that more needs to be done for children in ensuring their safety at home and schools.
Take care of the voiceless
Deputy President David Mabuza said it remains the country’s collective responsibility to take care of the voiceless and vulnerable.
“We call upon all of us to never remain silent when women and girl-children do not feel safe at home, on the streets, in schools, in workplaces, and on social media for fear of being victimised. This is the reason as a government, we remain steadfast in working to remove barriers to justice for survivors and victims of gender-based violence and femicide,” he said.
The Commission for Gender Equality’s Tamara Mathebula called on the government to ensure that Thuthuzela Care Centres and other shelters of safety have sufficient capacity to receive victims of domestic violence and their children.
Insufficient funding for shelters
She said in 2020, the Commission released a report on the state of shelters in South Africa.
Mathebula said the Commission’s investigation and hearings found that many shelters meant for the safety of gender-based violence victims did not have enough facilities to accommodate abused women and their children.
The CGE’s investigations also found that many shelters did not receive sufficient funding from the government to cover all their interventions.
“This is a concern as abused women need to take their children along when escaping from environments of domestic violence. While women are main victims of GBV, their children are secondary victims for obvious reasons,” she said.
The commission further called on government departments to address the findings contained in a report by the UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women.
“The report revealed that South Africa committed grave violations under the convention by failing to protect a significant number of girl children and women from domestic violence and failing to provide them with protection and adequate access to justice,” she said.
Mathebula said they have recommended that the government should avail skills development programmes in shelters in all provinces, and fully implement the recommendations made in the 2019 CGE report on the ‘State of Shelters in South Africa.