June 16: Focus on child welfare, protection

SHARE   |   Monday, 18 June 2018   |   By Ricardo Kanono
Venson-Moitoi Venson-Moitoi

The national commemoration of the Day of the African Child will take place in Kanye on Monday (June 18, 2018), under the theme, “Leave no child behind for Africa’s Development”, where the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi will officiate.

The Day of the African Child or June 16 is commemorated annually in memory of the children who lost their lives on this day in 1976 in South Africa. Against this backdrop, in 1991 the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) designated the 16th June as “the Day of the African Child”, as a tribute to the children of Africa by all Member States of the African Union.

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The African Committee Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, a committee established under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the rights and welfare of the child, identifies a theme each year. This year emphasis is on the need to mainstream children’s rights in all developmental agenda programs and implemented by AU Member States.

Botswana has made ammendments to numerous laws to prioritise the welfare of children and minors by strengthening and enforcing child protection. To this end, Legal Aid Botswana has gone on a campaign to promote child protection laws, among them maintenance of a minor child whose parents are married to different partners. Legal Aid Botswana says of chilren and minors: "If you have been maintaining your child with your former partner before she got married, unless the child is now adopted by the husband to your ex, you still have an obligation of maintenance towards that child. The mother still has the responsibility to demand from you that you care for your child, your responsibility do not just cease simply because the mother of the child is now married to a third party or because she says you should stop maintaining the child with the hope that you will fade away.

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 It is your responsibility to continue giving the child love and affection as a father of the child, it is your responsibility to see to it that your child is well cared for. It is your responsibility to have a relationship with this child. Sometimes mothers seek to change childrens surname to that of their husbands who are not the biological fathers to the children and without the children having been adopted by the husband and deny the biological father the privilege to have their own children assume their biological father’s surname. When we do this, we should be considerate of how this benefits the child and we should not do it to assuage our personal feelings and those of our new partners, you should be mindful of the future consequences when your and your new partner divorce.

If you are married and you have other children not of the marriage, they should feel free to visit you, they should not be strangers to your other children of the marriage, build that relationship between all your children and they should all feel like equals before you as their parent and none should be subservient to others. Lets do all we do in the best interest of the children".

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Child protection laws have been received with mixed feelings, with some members of the public labelling them a nightmare. These regulations are primarily to protect the children but some the ex-partners are using them to revenge. For example, in some quarters the requirement for Travel Affidavits for children is dismissed as a sham that weaponises the state machinery against the parent who does not have custody (particularly when the relationship is not cordial). It is mind boggling, they say, to imagine that the estranged partner may have never spent a single night with the kids for over two years and yet thumps their chest pretending how important they are. There simply has to be a better solution, complain the aggrieved single parents.

What about cases where the child's father is deceased and the mother always struggles to get a copy of a certified death certificate because it is valid for six months only? Can the registrar do something? Do I have authority as the mother to apply for a duplicate, mind you we were divorced at death? The single mothers complain of having to beg every six months, which they say is frustrating.    



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