Sioka failed children – Smit

The MP urged government to abolish the gender equality and child welfare ministry, which he called a “waste of resources”, and incorporate it into another ministry.

06 October 2021 | Ministries

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

Gender minister Doreen Sioka has come under fire for allegedly failing the Namibian child, who is subjected to gross sexual abuse, poverty and human rights abuses.

This according to Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) member of parliament Nico Smit, who asked Parliament to urgently discuss the plight of children in the country and how the terrible things happening to Namibian children can be addressed.

According to him, the only solution is to scrap the entire gender equality and child welfare ministry and instead incorporate it into another ministry as a department.

“This ministry is just a waste of resources. They have a whole budget but nothing is done, instead children just suffer. We hear of so many teachers who are sexually involved with children and these cases just die down. We want the names of these teachers to be made public.

“There has been no real action to look at the children living under bridges and begging on street corners and the minors in prison cells,” Smit said.

His remarks come at a time when the management of a local children’s centre raised alarm over the lack of support they get from social workers when reporting abuse.

Children not properly protected

Legal Assistance Centre’s Yolande Engelbrecht believes that the government systems currently in place are still unsympathetic towards victims, especially children.

According to her, this can be a major discouragement to even report abuse or rape cases amongst children.

“As long as all service providers are not well-prepared and fully-equipped to handle these cases, any type of abuse will worsen and mainly children will suffer. There’s a general lack of proper facilities and equipment, shortage of technical and physical support and a lack of urgency in some areas to deal with abuse and child protection cases.”

“Even where a rape complainant receives assistance from a social worker or the police, follow-up after the initial contact is virtually non-existent.”

She added that the ministry of gender recently announced that eight shelters for victims of abuse, children included, will be opened across Namibia from the beginning of October.

“[This] is an important step in the right direction. The question is: How well will these shelters and other services work together to fully protect children to not return these young victims home for the abuse to continue?” she asked.

Attempts to get hold of Sioka proved unsuccessful.

[email protected]

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