Child Abuse in South Africa Essay

7224 WordsMar 24, 201329 Pages
Child Abuse Review Vol. 17: 79–93 (2008) Child Abuse in South Africa Published online 17 March 2008 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/car.1004 79 Child Abuse in South Africa: Rights and Wrongs In a country in which human rights feature prominently in our discourse about who we are, as well as in the South African constitutional and legal framework, so many wrongs continue to be done to children. One category of wrongs is abuse, but it is not the only one. Poverty, patriarchy and gender violence, as well as the socialised obedience, dependency and silence of women and children, create conditions in which abuse can occur, often with few consequences. South Africa has extremely high rates of both physical and sexual abuse of children. Progressive, rights-based legislation exists to protect children, but it is not adequately supported or resourced by services to fulfil their provisions. Child abuse and neglect will not be significantly reduced in South Africa, without simultaneous improvements in the social and economic conditions in which very large numbers of children live. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. KEY WORDS: child abuse; South Africa; child rights; poverty Linda M. Richter* Human Sciences Research Council and the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal and the Witwatersrand, South Africa Andrew R. L. Dawes Human Sciences Research Council and University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the University of Oxford, UK ‘Conditions in which abuse can occur, often with few consequences’ S outh Africa is regarded as having an exemplary child rights environment. Yet the abuse and maltreatment of children are shockingly high—a fact forcibly brought home and broadcast abroad by the widely reported rape of several infants and toddlers in 2001 (Bird and Spurr, 2004; Richter, 2004). The policy of Apartheid—discrimination

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