In a bid to address irregularities contained in the Children’s Act, North West District Councilors requested for an amendment as the current state of the Act is purportedly harsh on parents who are the breadwinners and caretakers of families.
The Councilors noted that the role played by children in fuelling all kinds of abuse should not go unnoticed as some children are the worst abusers. They also lament the fact that children are given too much independence by government, resulting in them instilling unnecessary pain on the very people assigned to protect them.
Speaking at a full council meeting addressed by Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso on Monday, councilor Bathoni Poloko noted that no matter how parents try to raise children in conducive environments, some children still push their parents to the extremes. “Too much drug intake and alcohol consumption, in Maun particularly, is another big problem. Since we cannot just sit and watch our children vanish as a result of drugs, it is upon us to take stern action and ensure their wayward behaviour is discouraged, which now turns out to be abuse. They also cohabit and end up forcing unplanned marriages – no wonder the high divorce rates,” he said.
Etsha 13 councilor Dikoro Ngunga shared the same sentiments and stressed the need for various tribes in Ngamiland to be allowed to hold onto their culture which allows for arranged marriages. He added that government has a role to play in the moral decay amongst families, thus adding to divisions in families. “There is no way that culture should be mistaken for abuse. We are different, and so we should be allowed to lead our different lifestyles. These are just some of the loopholes we find in the Act also. We know children should be allowed to enjoy their youth, but we also have our way of doing things here,” he emphasised.
For her part Tshireletso, who had come to brief councilors on the development of the family policy said there are many factors that compound the existence of dysfunctional families in Botswana, and the high rate of social ills. She says there is urgent need to examine the laws, policies as well as the Act itself so that there is synergy concerning targeted programmes aimed at empowering families in Botswana.
“The development of this policy will be in line with the government’s commitment in the context of the African Union Plan of action on the family in Africa. It has also become evident that a comprehensive and well informed family policy is vital in that it will serve as a guideline for informing effective and efficient programs that affect the needs of the entire family and not children alone”.
Meanwhile Deputy Director Social Protection Mmaphefo Sethabo – Kgetse is of the view that children protection committees which have been set in villages and settlements are currently not serving the intended purpose. She says this is a major setback which also violates children’s rights.