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Human rights organisation Women and Men against Child Abuse has called for the Children’s Act to be amended, making it a crime for people not to report the physical abuse or deliberate neglect of children.

The NGO was established in 1997 as an advocacy organisation, fighting for the rights of abused children and highlighting inadequacies in the justice system.

In light of Child Protection Week, founding director Miranda Jordan said: “Child abuse statistics in South Africa remain woefully under-reported, with a huge number of cases simply not being reported for a lack of knowledge and fear of tedious and drawn-out court cases, a sad reflection on the current justice system.”

The organisation said it would like to see mandatory reporting of child abuse to ensure that children did not continue to be hurt.

“Currently, the safety of children is reliant on the moral obligation to report abuse for people who are not professionals listed under section 110(1) of the Children’s act 38 of 2005.

“There are too many children enduring abuse currently and ‘non-professional’ people with the knowledge of the abuse are not being held accountable

“If we don’t put extra measures in place we’re only going to see more children living in a traumatic state of being abused, in some cases resulting in their death,” Jordan said.

The group raises awareness about the effects of abuse on victims, and focuses on highlighting it in the justice system. It also provides prevention and education programmes.

“It needs to be 365 days of child protection - a lot can be done to increase awareness and education around child protection,” Jordan said.

“Much can be done to promote positive parenting and inform communities on their rights to report abuse.”

CAPE TIMES