Cry my beloved children

Francinah Baaitse

Child abuse rampant in Ngamiland

A least 60 young children in Ngamiland have been sexually abused, raped and neglected, in the past three months

This was revealed by the District Council’s Chairperson, Itumeleng Kelebetseng has during the official opening of a full council session in Maun last week.

Kelebetseng noted that abuse cases affecting children are actually in the increase and a cause of concern.

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“This is an unfortunate situation as these incidents psychologically traumatise children and affect their development as well as their future,” he said.

The Council Chairperson pleaded with the community to take child protection as an important and urgent matter and urged them play an active role in whatever capacity they can to report child rights violations as stipulated in the children’s Act of 2009.

“Let’s launch a war against child abuse. The time is now so that we preserve the future of our children. I urge you that everything you do should be in the best interest of the child at all times,” said Kelebetseng.

Section eleven of the said Act in particular explains varied offences against children, punishments and penalties that comes with it.

The offences include neglect or ill treatment of children, exposing children to pornography, cohabitation with children, exposing children to narcotics and drugs, cruel treatment, harmful social, cultural and religious practices.

Although penalties against perpetrators can attract maximum fines of P50 000 and five years imprisonment, the number of perpetrators continue to rise in the district.

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Just a couple of months back Ngami Health Management Team (DHMT) revealed that on average 30 girls aged between 11 and 19 dropped out of schools.

The Botswana Police Service’s Gender and Child Protection Unit also revealed that young girls aged around 15, especially junior secondary school drop-outs were often used for illicit sexual favours.

“Some have been married off and made to stay with husbands in cattleposts,” explained head of the unit in Maun, Segopolo Lefatshe.

According to him some of the common sexual offences against children include rape, incest, defilement of mentally challenged children and indecent assault.

Other offences include minor children who are left alone to care for their younger siblings while their parents are out galivanting.

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