Legal Literacy Project on Child Rights Gives Hope to Decrease Child Abuse in Dedza
The Malawi Law Society's legal literacy project on child rights, assisted by NICE and UNICEF, aims to reduce child abuse cases in Dedza-Benson Kamonjola.
Malawi-Following the implementation of a project on legal literacy on child rights by the Malawi Law Society (MLS), which is being carried out by the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) with assistance from UNICEF, there is hope that the number of cases of child abuse in the Dedza district may decrease, writes Benson Kamonjola.
The project, which was launched in 2022, has so far reached students in 14 schools in the Dedza communities of TA Kaphuka and Kachindamoto.
According to one of the volunteers in Dedza, Isdor Maposa, the project has helped a lot as children are now able to understand the laws and report to relevant authorities at the school level when they are faced with a rights violation case.
“We are putting suggestion boxes in all schools where students can drop whatever issues they are going through. Now children are able to report violations of their rights and the perpetrators are being brought to book,” disclosed Maposa to Africabrief.
Peace Ketulo, a teacher at Tapezana primary school in the district, said the project has come at the right time as more children are now comfortable reporting whatever abuse they have encountered, unlike in the past when they used to suffer in silence.
“As teachers, we have seen a great improvement on the part of the learners in reporting incidents, as in the past some could not perform well in class because they had been abused, but with these engagements, many children are able to participate,” said Ketulo.
Concurring with Ketulo, the head teacher at Matewe primary school, Brave Kuwache, said issues of child abuse have been a contributing factor to low performance in class among children.
“Dedza being a farming district, some parents have been forcing their children to go to the farm at a time they were supposed to be in class, but there has been an improvement in attendance since the start of this project,” said Kuwache.
Martha Isaac, who is the chairperson for the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) at Mitowi Primary School, said the project promises to improve girl child education in the two TAs.
She has therefore urged parents and teachers to coordinate well in ending the vice.
According to last year’s report by the Malawi Police Service, released by the Ministry of Gender, Community Development, and Social Welfare, from January to September 2022, the country registered a decrease in defilement cases from 1224 in 2021 to 1155 in 2022, something activists said needed more action.
Meanwhile, NICE Public Trust Civic Education Officer responsible for Lilongwe, Dedza and Ntcheu districts, Daniel Malango, said they hope that through the project, cases of child abuse will be reduced further.
Malango said the programme is targeting the children so that they are made aware of their rights and that they can report to the authorities whenever they feel infringed.
He, however, bemoaned the tendency of some parents and close relatives, who he said were perpetrators of abuse against children and warned that the law will take its course against such perpetrators.