Child protection: The picture
Widespread poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic are leaving many Mozambican children disadvantaged and vulnerable to abuse. Four million out of the almost 10 million children and adolescents under 18 years of age are considered vulnerable.
Many of them find themselves working in exploitative situations. The 1997 population census estimated that 388,000 children below the age of 15 were subjected to child labour. According to a Ministry of Labour assessment in 1999/2000, the three worst forms of child labour in Mozambique are child domestic work, child prostitution and children working in commercial farms.
There are some 1.6 million orphans in the country with 325,000 of them having lost their mother, father or both parents due to AIDS. Children and women are also subjected to violence, especially domestic violence and child abuse. Because Mozambican law defines violence against women as a private domain where the law cannot intervene, violent behaviour towards women and young girls is at times carried out with impunity.
Trafficking of women and children is another growing concern in Mozambique, though little is known about trafficking within the country. There is a need to quantify the phenomenon and to raise awareness.
Other statistics tell a grim story, too. There are 300 children living on Maputo city streets identified and up to a quarter of those in prison are younger than 18 years. More than 100,000 children with disabilities are not receiving education or rehabilitative and therapeutic support within the country.
These problems are further exacerbated by the fact that the majority of children are not registered and issued with a birth certificate. Parents usually have to travel long distances to register a child, because the process is still not fully de-centralized. Children who are not registered experience difficulty in accessing certain social services such as school exams and will have problems in claiming their inheritance, if their parents die.
However, the Government is committed to improving the rights of children and women. The Government ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1993, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1994 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children in 1998.
The Government has also taken on the task to improve access to birth registration. And there is continued progress in legislation and policy regarding children and women’s rights and protection. In addition, policy development is taking place in the areas of youth, social integration of children and children with disabilities.