Malawi government has warned that tourists luring underage girls into sexual exploitation would be prosecuted and even deported.
There worries that the southern African country is becoming a magnet for pedophiles with rising child sex tourism in tourism attraction areas of Mangochi and other lakeshore districts in the country.
Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare has learnt during monitoring visit officials from UNICEF, ministries of gender and information made to Dzimwe Community Radio in Monkey Bay, Mangochi that some tourists especially of European origin indulge into sex with little girls and boys living in tourism attraction areas.
During the visit, officials learnt that callers reveal cases of defilement, child flogging and tourism sex to the radio during phone-in programs on child protection but the cases go unreported to either police or courts because they are culturally taken as normal.
Principal social welfare officer responsible for family and child welfare Dominic Misomali said: “It is not normal to sleep with a girl or a boy aged 10 or 12 because the age gap between that male or female tourist and the child is very wide.”
He said communities have powers to report such cases straight to police or courts, saying that is “total exploitation and abuse”. W
Misomali said his department ais fighting violence abuse exploitation and neglect of children.
He said abusing a child sexually is against Child Care Protection and Justice Act of 2010. Sections 80 and 81 of the act state, “No person shall subject a child to a social or customary practice that is harmful to the health or general development of the child.” No person shall-force a child into marriage; or b) force a child to be betrothed.
Misomali said a person who contravenes sections 80 and 81 commits an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment tor ten years.
The principal social welfare officer then challenged parents, guardians and the general public to ensure children are protected from all forms of abuse including sex tourism and beating.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) through ministry of gender is sponsoring community and national radios to market six core child protection services available in the country in their programming.
The six services include community victim support units (CSVUs) available in 300 traditional authorities country wide, in Chichewa CSVU is named Bwalo Lothandiza Ochitiridwa Nkhanza, , Police Victim Support Unit (PVSU) in Chichewa Ofesi ya Chitetezo ndi Chinsinsi ku Polisi, Child Help line translated as Titandizane.
Others are One Stop Centre branded as Chikwanekwane, Reformatory Centres with Chichewa name of Malo Osulira Ana and Child Justice named in Chichewa as Khoti La Ana.
Malawi is among countries worst affected by the AIDS pandemic, with around 11 percent of its people infected by the HIV virus.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :