Cape Town – As Child Protection Week is observed under the theme “Let us protect all children to move SA forward”, the Children’s Institute at UCT said that while rape murders were unusual in other countries, they were common in South Africa.
In its 22nd year, the campaign by the Department of Social Development aims to mobilise all sectors of society to ensure that children are cared for and protected.
South Africa has drafted legislation, based on the United Convention of the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the Constitution.
Professor Shanaaz Mathews, director of the Children’s Institute at UCT, said rape-murder occurred in 20% of child murder cases.
“Both the rape of children and their murder are not unusual events in our country; they are related problems. However, rape murders are unusual events in other countries.
"Rape is part of a continuum of violence experienced by children, and can be considered to be related to the very high levels of rape in South Africa driven by underlying sexual entitlement by men over women and position of children in society,” Mathews said.
Mathews said child murders had a distinct pattern, with children under five being more likely to be killed at home by someone close to them.
Development organisation Afrika Tikkun spokesperson Onyi Nwaneri said it was important to commemorate Child Protection week, but added that it needed to be an ongoing year-round effort.
“As adults we need to acknowledge that we all have a responsibility to protect children from harm and that we should be encouraging them to speak out, seeking their council and valuing their leadership.
“Finally, the old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and the principles of ubuntu need to be aggressively promoted within our communities.
"Communities, neighbourhoods and the like should all be seen as guardians of our children and they should be prepared to work together fearlessly to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of those children,” Nwaneri said.
The Department of Social Development has a 24-hour call centre dedicated to providing support and counselling to victims of gender-based violence.
The toll free number to call is 0800 428 428 if you wish to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling.
Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cellphone.