Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare children development director McKnight Kalanda has warned child abuse perpetrators of stiff punishment when the law catches up with them.
He issued the warning in Karonga yesterday during the opening of a two-day meeting with children and other stakeholders ahead of the World Children’s Day commemoration slated for November 20.
Kalanda admitted that despite several interventions to protect children from abuse, defilement cases, early marriages and teen pregnancies were on the rise.
He said: “Courts have now started giving stiffer penalties to deter other would-be offenders.
“So, we warn any perpetrator that they will face the long arm of the law.”
However, Kalanda assured the children, parents and other stakeholders that government is geared to protect the rights of children in the country.
He said: “Government has made several strides towards the protection of children.
“As I am speaking, government has increased the allocation towards child protection.”
Standard Seven pupil Kenneth Gondwe asked government to engage parents and guardians that force young girls into early marriages.
He said: “It is a violation of children’s right to force them into marriages instead of sending them to school.
“I also urge traditional leaders to formulate by-laws to protect girls from early marriages.”
Unicef advocacy and partnerships specialist Shorai Ng’ambi said they will continue working with government to protect the rights of children in the country.
“It is interesting to note that the current administration is showing commitment in implementing the conventions on the rights of children in the country,” he said.
Janet Mwakasungula, a parent, asked fellow parents to take the responsibility to educate their children so that they should become better citizens.
“If we want the district to develop, we should stop abusing children. Instead, we should educate them,” he said