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Type of document: News
Topic: Normative and institutional framework
Geographic descriptors: Malawi
Language: English
Source: www.dailytimes.bppmw.com/article.asp?ArticleID=3000
Date of publication: 25 October 2006
Long Abstract: Children for stiffer penalties to rapists


05:44:28 - 25 October 2006

ABOUT 10 children from different primary and secondary schools in Lilongwe Monday told the Special Law Commission to consider reviewing some laws in the Republican Constitution to effect stiffer penalties for rapists and child abusers in the country.

The children were making presentations at in the Capital City where the National Technical Working Group for Child Protection met the Special Law Commission to press for constitutional amendments in a bid to fully protect the rights of children.

The children, who made heart-breaking presentations based on personal experiences ranging from prostitution to street kidding, expressed concern on increased cases of girl child defilement in Malawi.

“It is unfortunate that even though cases of child defilement have been reported in the press almost on daily basis, nothing tangible has so far been done to stop the trend with culprits being given very lenient sentences in some cases,” said one of the children in her presentation.

The children also highlighted some of the problems they go through including accusations of witchcraft, child trafficking, forced marriages and child labour, among other things, they said need to be carefully looked into when reviewing the constitution.

Special Law Commission chairperson Professor Zimani Kadzamira said his committee was extremely impressed and concerned with the personal presentations by the children.

Kadzamira said the personal concerns highlighted in the children’s presentations have made a significant mark in the minds of the commissioners.

He said this would help the commissioners in the constitution review process.

During the meeting, Ministry of Women and Child Development presented a position paper on children issues to the Special Law Commission as contribution to the constitutional review process.

Principal Secretary in the ministry Andrina Mchiela said children are very crucial in the social development of any country hence the need to look seriously into some of the concerns raised in the presentations.

Mchiela said findings from her ministry indicate that some sections of the constitutions need review to incorporate stiffer penalties for child sex abusers and marriage-related issues, among other things.

The sections of the constitution, which have been targeted for review according to the position paper, include sections 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 42.

According to Unicef, currently there are no adequate laws that criminalise child sexual abuse in the country and that between 1994 and 2004, over 150 cases of child defilement have been reported in the press.

The Unicef report further indicates that since January this year, there has been an average of one abuse of the girl child story reported each passing day in the local press.

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