Video showrooms: Censorship authorities, Mothers’ Group draw roadmap for cracking whip

Senior officials from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife and Likuni Boys Mother Group last week held a closed-door meeting to find the lasting solution to rising cases of school dropouts and child delinquency in Chigwirizano and Likuni Townships.

Brown: We are excited to partner with the government to police video showrooms at Chigwiri and Likuni Townships–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu.
Mwanamanga: Video showrooms are fuelling bad behaviour
Nthakomwa: Likuni Mother Group is raising very genuine concerns–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

The meeting was in response to an article Nyasa Times carried recently about Mwanamanga of Chigwirizano Township who complained that video showrooms are contributing significantly to the breakdown in behavior, morals and school dropouts among children in the area.

Mwananga made the lamentation during a public rally Likuni Boys Mother Group organized the campaign with financial support from an Irish organization – Misean Cara through the Marist Brothers –  and also  Manos Unidas to sensitize parents and community leaders on the need to provide maximum care and support to children.

The chief appealed to the relevant authorities to consider instituting stricter surveillance on video showrooms to prevent children being exposed to pornographic materials.

“We appeal that there should be a periodic monitoring and censorship of the materials being played in the video showrooms. In fact, we would have loved to see video showrooms closed during schooldays because our children prefer watching films to school,” said Mwanamanga.

The appeal prompted the Chief Censoring Officer, Anganile Nthakomwa, and other senior officials from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife to visit the areas last Wednesday to discuss with the mother group and traditional leaders on how they can collaborate to end the vice.

Nthakomwa said the meeting was aimed at identifying challenges emanating from the proliferation of video showrooms in Likuni and Chigwirizano Townships and thereafter find lasting solutions to them.

“When we saw the article about the Likuni Boys Mother Group bemoaning the tendency of the children patronizing video showrooms during school time and that what they are exposed to there has led to moral decay and girls dropping out of school, we went to discuss with them what we can do together to curb this social practice. We agreed on a number of things as a way forward. In the meeting, we also had traditional leaders. We agreed that we should go to the villages in the outskirts of Likuni where the practice is rampant,” she said.

Nthakomwa disclosed that they are planning to go back to the area after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“We are targeting various traditional leaders and owners of the video showrooms. And the other thing that came out of this meeting with the mother group is that we want to give chiefs more powers to inspect video showrooms that are operating in their areas of jurisdiction to ensure they are not exposing children to unrated materials,” she said.

Among others, the meeting agreed to engage to engage the Lilongwe City and District Councils on effecting bylaws on the operation of video showrooms and the need to work with District Social Welfare Officers to protect the children from such malpractices.

They also resolved to meet opinion leaders such as chiefs within the Likuni area and surrounding villages to inform their subjects on the dangers of exposing children to undesirable materials and in a way empowering them to deal with video show operators who do not comply with the law; and share information on the role of the Censorship Board in the regulation of films, public entertainment facilities and performances.

Likuni Boys Mother Group Project Officer, Fatima Brown, welcomed the partnership with the ministry in tackling the breakdown in social and moral well-being of the children among the children.

Brown reiterated that her group remains committed to collaborating with other stakeholders such as the police, they have decisive steps towards eliminating harmful cultural practices that fuel child marriages, early and unplanned pregnancies, among others.

“We are very delighted that the ministry has responded and is willing to work with us to end this problem. We believe an end to this problem will translate into improvements in enrolment and completion of school among the children in this area,” she said.

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