In commemoration of International Children’s Day, the Department of Social Development encourages all social partners, including parents, caregivers, civil society organisations and South Africans from all walks of life, to protect children against harmful practices.

The commemoration, which is today, is observed under the theme, ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children’.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said that harmful practices rob children – especially in most cases, the girl child – of their childhood, deny them a fair chance to determine their future and threaten the well-being of individuals, families and society.

“These practices must be discouraged, as they negatively affect children and perpetuate physical and emotional abuse. All these forms of harmful practices are likely to cause harm and suffering for children, as they limit children’s capacity to participate fully in society or develop and reach their full potential,” Zulu said.

The Minister further called on society and organisations working with children to not only commemorate this day but to protect children against harmful practices.

Since 2017, June 1 has been observed as International Children’s Day. Its commemoration is informed by the 1925 World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, which proclaimed this day as International Children’s Day.

Following the conference, different governments globally declared this day as Children’s Day to draw attention to children’s issues.

This year, the day focuses more on the elimination of harmful practices that affect children.

By definition, a harmful practice is a collective term for many different forms of abuse which all share a similar characteristic in that they are seen as acceptable practices within sections of society.

Harmful practices include, among others, child marriage, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), breast flattening, hate crimes, child abuse linked to faith or belief, and so-called honour-based abuse.

These forms of harmful practices are persistently practiced as normal societal behaviours imposed based on sex, gender or age. Such harmful practices are perfected by society through the application of multiple forms of discrimination, which often involve violence and cause physical and/or psychological harm and suffering.

Section 12 (1) of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 indicates that every child has a right not to be subjected to social, cultural and religious practices that are detrimental to their well-being. Subsection 2 (a) of the Act outlines the minimum age of marriage.

In subsection 3, the Act prohibits genital mutilation or the circumcision of female children. The Act further in subsection 4 prohibits virginity testing of children under the age of 18.

The escalation of protection measures toward children form part of the country’s Child Protection Week campaign, which is currently underway and observed under the theme, ‘Let us Protect Children during COVID-19 and Beyond’.

The Department of Social Development, together with its partners and stakeholders, will be commemorating this International Day of Children on 3 June 2023 in De Aar, Northern Cape. – SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency

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