The Catholic Church in Malawi launches Child Protection Policy which seeks to provide guidelines, coordination and support for child protection in the socio-economic, cultural and pastoral reflection of all Catholic institutions.
The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Bishop Chairman, His Grace Thomas Luke Msusa said at the launch that the policy will contribute to fulfilling the Church mission in creating awareness and empowerment of people at grassroots to undertake development that is sensitive to children’s welfare in order to make sure that children are protected in all spheres.
The policy contains issues of child care, justice, protection and dignity of the children and an assurance that the rights of a child are protected in accordance with the Gospel values of Jesus Christ.
It also recognizes different forms of child abuse including sexual, physical, emotional, neglect, negligent, child labour among others that persist in Malawi society.
Msusa said the Church is through the policy set to advance child protection issues in all its instutitions as a matter of urgency by ensuring that Church activities become sensitive to Child Protection issues “in fulfillment of Christ’s evangelization mission of love and justice.”
He mentioned that as the country continues to experience a lot of heinous crimes against children that includes: early marriages; the unimaginable rape cases in courts; the child trafficking cases and the abduction of people with albinism, the Church is convinced that the Policy “is timely intervention”
The Bishop said the Policy will complement government’s interventions to curb child abuse and urged everyone to take active role and support implementation of the Policy for full realization of tangible strides.
“As Church we shall continue to mainstream protection in all our spheres of work… we also wish to challenge all our cooperating partners and Government as well to join hands in programming to advance safeguarding issues.
“Together let us design our programmes so as to tackle child abuse cases holistically and bridge the gaps that exist in this area.” He said
His Grace Msusa also called upon Government to seriously priorities review of some of the documents guiding child care as well as effective implementation of the 2010 Child Care Justice and Protection Act.
He added; “We urge all responsible authorities to be proactive and take swift action on reporting issues to do with child abuse.”
The Catholic Bishop Chairman further asked Malawians to reject and denounce the evil social morals that perpetuate violence and abuse and cause moral decadence.
But emphasized the need to uphold only positive cultural norms that present a brighter future for the nation.
“I am at pains to accept the deep rooted systems in our country that perpetrate child abuse. Undeniably there are some harmful cultural practices that we must all join hands to eradicate as they are counter to Gospel values that we profess,” said Msusa
Meanwhile, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare who was present at the occasion of the launch on Thursday at Msamba Parish in Lilongwe, thanked the Church for its continued efforts in complementing Government efforts in ending Child Abuse.
“We are really very grateful that our Catholic Bishops have taken this positive. This Policy will complement the Government Policies.
“We are very sure that with this policy we are going to reduce violence against our children because a lot of people will be aware of the child rights and to know the importance of taking care of the children as well as consequences that follow if someone abuses the child” said Kaliati
According to Msusa, ECM developed the Policy to guide child care and safeguarding of children after long time reflection on the status the children, and the future of generation of the Church and country, in cognizance to country’s cultural and moral values and demand to embrace modern technology.
The developed Policy provides that Child Protection Office will work proactively with all Catholic institutions towards ensuring that reasonable measures are taken to minimize the risk of harm to children in church institutions, programmes and activities.
It also states that the Church will work proactively and reactively, responding to concerns and allegations of child abuse and liaising with all Catholic institutions to ensure that cases if child abuse are properly dealt with.
In Malawi, child abuse cases from 2013 statistics released by Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare on the study on Violence against Children and Young Women indicates that half of Malawians aged 18 to 24 years and one third of Malawians aged 13 to 17 years reported witnessing violence in the home.
The Church is expected to take the Policy documents to all its institution across the country and every person taking care of the child will sign that they are going to safeguard the protection policy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :