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International Children's Day: fighting child trafficking, abuse and exploitation

© UNICEF/MOZA-01521/G.Pirozzi
Maputo 31 May – On 1 June every year the world unites to celebrate International Children’s Day. The celebrations this year also coincide with the 18th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In Mozambique, several civil society organisations, development partners and the Government have united to organise a range of celebrations and awareness raising activities lasting until 16 June, the Day of the African Child. The theme for this year’s celebrations in the country is “Fighting trafficking, abuse and exploitation of children, we protect their rights”.

Cultural, recreational and sports events will take place with the participation of children from several provinces. The awareness raising activities being organised by partners, in collaboration with UNICEF, include a workshop with journalists and senior editors on sexual abuse of girls in schools and a live television debate on the fight against child trafficking.

In addition, two debates, one on child protection networks and one on the Children’s Act are also being organised in collaboration with UNICEF.

The situation of child protection in Mozambique

Despite the significant steps taken over previous years by the Government to improve both the policy and legal instruments for the protection of children, a large number of Mozambican children are still vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and traffic.

There are no comprehensive national figures on the situation of violence and abuse of children. However, specialised police centres for women and children have reported approximately 23,000 cases of violence and abuse from 2002 to 2006, of which some 6,000 involve children.

A study on trafficking in Southern Africa conducted in 2002/2003 by the International Organisation on Migration found that Mozambique is both a source country and a transit country for trafficking activities in Southern Africa. The study found that approximately 1,000 Mozambican women and children are trafficked to South Africa every year.

A study conducted in 2005 with the support of Save the Children, Care International, Rede Came, FDC and the Ministry of Education and Culture, estimated that 8 per cent of school children had suffered physical sexual abuse.   Data from the Labour Force Survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) in 2004/2005 indicates that 32 per cent of children between seven 7 and 17 years old are engaged in some form of economic activity.

© UNICEF/MOZA-01494/G.Pirozzi
The 2004 Annual Statistical Report on the Prison System in Mozambique reported that 17 per cent of the prison population was comprised of adolescents aged between 16 and 19 years old.

Data from the 2003 Demographic and Health Survey indicated that 18 per cent of girls aged 20-24 had been married before the age of 15 and 56 per cent before the age of 18.

Progress in the legal framework and policies for child protection

Mozambique has ratified international and regional human rights instruments relating to the protection of children, including:  

  • Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

  • Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour

  • Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment

  • African Charter on Human and People’s Rights

  • African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
In 2004, a legal review was conducted with UNICEF support, which included an analysis of gaps in existing legislation on the protection of children. On the basis of this analysis, the drafting of a comprehensive Children’s Act and of an Act on children in conflict with law were initiated and concluded, and are now waiting for approval by the Parliament.

In 2004 a new Family Act was approved. Its implementation will strengthen the current legal framework protecting children.

In 2006, the Ministry of Women and Social Action developed a National Action Plan for Children (2006-2010), which outlines several activities to protect children from violence, neglect and sexual exploitation.

In 2006, the Government also approved a Plan of Action for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, which includes the provision of basic services fundamental for child survival and development.

Separate children’s sections are being set up in provincial courts as an alternative to the lack of an appropriate court for children which is currently only available in Maputo city.

Community-based surveillance systems to monitor, report and help prevent child abuse and violence are being expanded with the support of UNICEF and partners.

Specialised police centres have been opened throughout the country to support women and children victims of violence.

In addition, the Government is being supported by UNICEF and other partners to test different models of protection and service delivery for the most vulnerable children, including access to birth registration, to help prevent child labour, arbitrary imprisonment, child trafficking, child marriage, expropriation of inheritance and other forms of abuse and exploitation.

 

 

 

 

Related links

Child Protection

Overcoming fear to report domestic violence

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


UN Position Paper

Protection of Girls against Sexual Abuse in the Education System


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Related publications

Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis (Summary)


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