South Africa’s child’s rights record has been reviewed by a United Nations (UN) committee sitting in Geneva this week – with Deputy Minister for Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu highlighting a number of challenges facing the country in this regard.
“We do have challenges on a daily basis,” she told the committee. According to government’s reply to the UN’s list of issues in this regard, it was shown that South Africa had continued to experience high levels of child inequality and poverty, poor educational outcomes, and a high – albeit decreasing – infant mortality rate, especially among marginalised and vulnerable children.
“A total of 60% of children live in households earning less than R575 per person, per month, and racial disparities persist, with 67% of black children living below this line, compared to 2% of white children.” South Africa was asked to elaborate on a number of measures to ensure child rights.
Government’s reply pointed to legislation to tackle these issues.
But there were still a number of concerns, including early marriages, which had a “potentially harmful effect on children’s rights to education and development”, according to the reply.
Illegal backstreet abortions also continue, which has led to the health department reactivating “youth-friendly clinics”, said Bogopane-Zulu. “We view the issue around sex as ongoing education and acknowledge that, given our cultural diversity, a lot of children become parents.”
The committee in its response said change is based in recognising the needs of the child.