Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children

Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children
Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children

Africa-Press – Namibia. CHILDREN LIVING on the streets and those used as child labour are often excluded from child and youth spaces and programmes. They have no access to information, opportunities or justice.

Although Namibia has made notable advances in realising the rights of children, there is a void when it comes to the rights of street children and child labourers.

As a result, these two groups are especially vulnerable to harmful practices.

The theme of this year’s Day of the African Child, marked last week, is ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’.

We need to assess Namibia’s progress in ending harmful practices affecting children.

Namibia adopted the Child Care and Protection Act in 2015, which largely incorporates the principles and rights contained in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Child Care and Protection Act sets out key principles related to the best interests of children. This includes eliminating child exploitation, violence against children, child rape, and child marriages.


However, children, especially Angolan children living in northern Namibia, are susceptible to child labour, exploitation and violence.

They are employed as unskilled labourers, cattle herders or labourers in mahangu fields.

This is replicated in Windhoek, especially in the informal settlements. Children as young as 14 years are employed as informal vendors in Okuryangava, Havana and Monte Christo.

They sell sweets and chips, carry around buckets of muffins, or push wheelbarrows containing maize in the blazing hot sun or early morning cold.

Most of these children say they are employees of businesses owned by family members or close family friends. A minority are self-employed.

They cite economic and social problems as the main reason they live on the streets.

Among others, their daily routine includes searching for food in rubbish bins, begging for money, and looking for scrap metal to sell. They sleep in riverbeds or under bridges.

Their right to education is also violated. They are unable to attend school because of missing documents or lack of citizenship.

Some prefer to work rather than go to school as they can use the little they earn on the streets or in the fields to sustain themselves and their families.

Poverty, economic inequality and abuse exacerbates the injustices children face and sets back efforts to realise the rights of all children.


Platforms where child labourers and street children can express their views or concerns are almost non-existent.

We rarely see them represented on public platforms. They have been rendered voiceless.

To eliminate harmful child labour and reduce the number of children living on the streets, the government should look at inter-country adoptions for child labourers both in northern Namibia and other parts of the country.

Further, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration needs to look at providing these children with documentation, such as birth certificates, which is a barrier for those who want to attend school.

The government, with the assistance of the private sector and civil society organisations, needs to commission programmes that not only provide access to education but which also holistically eliminate the psycho-social and economical adversities these children face.

Violators of children’s rights also need to be brought to justice.

Street children and child labourers have had their rights violated for far too long.

We must adopt a multi-sectoral approach. All stakeholders need to increase their efforts to help realise the rights of all children.

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