Civil Society appeal for protection law against violence and abuse of the girl child
MAPUTO, Mozambique, 10 April 2012 - Last week more than sixty Government institutions, UN agencies, donors, private sector entities, Civil Society Organisations (CSO), faith based organisations (FBO) and academia came together to appeal for the introduction of a law to protect the girl child against violence and abuse. The appeal was made during a meeting convened by the Civil Society Forum for Child Rights (ROSC) and the Education for all Movement (MEPT) to reflect on the legal framework for the protection of children.
The objective of the meeting was to influence the decision making process on the fight against violence, consolidate actions and reinforce efforts of different stakeholders working with child protection issues. Vice-Minister of Education, Augusto Jones, gave an inspiring and thoughtful opening speech in which he addressed the role the Ministry has played in supporting efforts against violence through the creation of space for open debates about gender-based violence. This includes the promotion of a culture of zero tolerance against sexual abuse in schools. He also challenged civil society to expand its advocacy efforts to the provincial and district levels. Through the process of decentralization, the district administrator plays an important role in ensuring that decisions made at the national level are complied with at the district and school levels. "They are the ones who have the power to hire and fire the teachers who break the law, not the Ministry," said the Vice-Minister.
Afterwards, the Executive Coordinator of MEPT, Dinis Machaul, made a detailed analysis of the current legal framework, highlighting the absence of legal instruments to legitimate and make the protection of children more efficient. "There are various policies on the protection of women and children, but there are many discrepancies in how these policies relate to the girl child, because, although the girl child is defined as a child from a legal perspective, from a social and cultural perspective the same child is treated as a mature woman who can take on the role of a mother or spouse," said Mr. Machaul. In the meeting, a proposal was made by the civil society organisations to revise the penal code, which was subsequently handed to Parliament by ROSC to inform parliamentarians about the issues to consider when revising the penal code, which is expected to be approved by October this year. The meeting concluded with clear recommendations for the various stakeholders, in order to make sure that the protection of children against violence and abuse becomes a reality.
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