The rights of the child – still a fallacy for many

As the world marked the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children on November 20, some children in South Africa marked the day with mixed feelings. They gathered at local community halls to share glaring gaps that still exist in their communities when it comes to quality of education, child abuse cases, food insecurity and inadequate love they claim to experience from their parents.

“We would have loved to join our peers to mark this day with celebrations, perhaps as our peers are probably doing in other places, but for us here in the Eastern Cape, there’s nothing to celebrate,” says Nkosazana. According to this 16-year-old girl from Cildara location, Eastern Cape, “This child’s right thingy is just something we hear about at school, in television and radio, but in our communities we experience the opposite of what we are promised.”
In the Western Cape, children from Mbekweni battled to find solutions on how best to deal with the issue of gangsters, which they believe is their number one problem. “Many of us here are from single parent families. This means we are left without supervision or in the care of siblings after school, and this means we are not safe,” says Natasha, 15.

“Last week there was an incident where a girl of my age was raped and killed. When I heard this I became so scared, because I heard she was attacked by some boys from my community,” says Fikiswa, 14.

According to the SA Child Gauge 2014, recently launched by the Children’s Institute together with World Vision and other partners, “while South Africa has put in place laws and policies to protect children from abuse and violence, they continue to experience these atrocities in their homes, schools and communities.”

World Vision SA’s Advocacy and External Engagements Advisor, Stanley Maphosa, comments, “It’s becoming clear that we need an effective and a proper co-ordinated child protection system. We are excited about this year’s Child Gauge, because it identifies key challenges and makes recommendations towards strengthening systems.”