Abusing Our Children’s Innocence

At least 814 Namibian children have been abused, either physically or sexually, over the last twelve months, while 923 children have been left neglected or abandoned. The total number of abused children is broken up into 539 girls and 275 boys, and is for the period April 2013 to March 2014. These official figures New Era obtained from government agencies and departments dealing with children in the country, but the agencies and departments declined being publically mentioned, as they are not authorised to talk to the media.

According to government records availed, there has been an increase in children being abandoned and neglected with the toll standing at 923 for the period between April 2013 and May 2014 compared to the 896 children recorded in the period between April 2012 and March 2013.

Although the statistics show a slight decline of about 8 percent from data collected between April 2012 to March 2013, it is noted that violence against children is most likely to go unreported as the victims may be too young and afraid to report incidents of violence against them, out of fear that they will be accused of lying or be blamed for the abuse.

New Era also spoke to police about perpetrators of abuse or neglect not being automatically charged or taken to task for such violations, especially in cases of children drowning, getting sick or dying from poisoned home brewed alcoholic drinks.

The Head of NamPol’s Public Relations Division, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, said “when there is no clear-cut intent to commit a crime” the case is submitted to the prosecutor general to decide whether to prosecute or not.

Just last week a one-year old toddler was among 25 people hospitalised after drinking traditional beer known as ‘mundevere’ in the Kavango, but there was no indication whether the parents were taken to task for the incident. Kanguatjivi said in some instances, home brewed drinks such as oshikundu are considered as having low alcohol concentration levels, such that they are fed as nutritious drinks to children.

He said that it was high time that something was done regarding the escalating cases of child neglect and abuse and one way could be national outcry on the issue, such as in the case of gender-based violence (GBV) for which a national prayer day was held.

Source : New Era