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How far has Zimbabwe gone in meeting children’s rights beyond writing down policies and creating “child protecting” organisations. In Zimbabwe, it seems as if when we are talking about children rights we are only confined to girls who are being raped or sexually assaulted. Child rights go beyond that.

The organisations we have seem to have been focused on girls only. So many cases of girls who are being raped have been solved. Recently, there was a celebration that a certain school girl who had been forced out of school because of her hairstyle won the case.

We are happy because that is an achievement, at least that girl’s rights to religion were protected.

The problem now is, there are other children who lack fundamental rights.

A lot of children are not going to school in Mbare, a lot of children are not being immunised and a lot of children are starving.

I have never heard of a parent being dragged to court for failing to send their children to school.

Why is this so yet a lot of children are not going to school.

The kids in the street, whose responsibility is it?

Why is it that pressure groups and civic groups are active in a selected number of child rights and not all of them?

The children in Zimbabwe are entitled to the right of protection against neglect, abuse and maltreatment.

This is provided for in Section 19 of the new Constitution.

The Government has taken this upon itself by criminalising certain acts so as to protect the children.

These include the criminalisation of sexual intercourse with people under the age of 16 because it is assumed that they are not mature enough to be able to consent.

Corporal punishment has also been criminalised to protect the children.

Some independent organisations have also taken it upon themselves to ensure that the interests of children in Zimbabwe have been protected.

The issue now is, is it enough? Is it effective, is it helping in any way? Are the rights of the children being effectively protected or it is just on paper? Is there a room for improvement?

The Government has tried to protect the rights and welfare of children through criminal law and other programmes such as BEAM, while the other organisations have tried through awareness and aocacy.

This has helped to a very limited extent.

There is a lot that needs to be dealt with. Girls are still being raped, are still being forced into marriage with older men, are still being forced to drop out of school and work as house maids.

What is really the problem? What is lacking? This is despite the fact that we have a constitution that clearly outlines the rights of children.

We have many organisations, Girl-Child Network, Justice for Children Fund, Childline etc. Are these organisations really effective?

Could it be that people are just turning a blind eye?

In a certain year, Childline is reported to have received 93 calls, 32 drop-ins and 60 letters.

This is really just a drop in the ocean, a thousand of children are being neglected everyday and we marvel at 93 calls the whole year?

The rights of Zimbabwean children are dependent on many factors. They depend on the financial status of the child, where the child is living, the religion of the child and the sex of the child.

Things should not be like this , rights are supposed to be equal not conditional.

The right to education is mainly available to those with the financial back up of going to school, and is easily available to children in towns and cities and easily available to boys in some traditions. The world is progressing and Zimbabwe should progress with it but not at the pace we are going on at. We still have lots of children in farms who are not going to school , we still have families that prioritise boys over girls in this age. It’s high time we practise what we preach, the Constitution is clear on the rights of the children, we have many organisations for that we just need to put the potential into action and every child in Zimbabwe will be enjoying his or her right s to the fullest extent .

Source : The Herald

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