Friday 11 October 2019
Marking the International Day of the Girl Child (11October), Save the Children South Africa (SCSA), calls for genuine action to protect migrant girls. In a country where child abuse is prevalent, migrant girls are some of the most vulnerable children and a target for sexual exploitation, forced marriage and forced labour.
Save the Children’s Girls on the Move study,
carried out in Mozambique as country of origin, Zambia as predominantly a transit country and South Africa as mainly a destination country for girls on the move. However due to the nature of migration of these children, data or statistics is very scarce and unreliable.
Research shows us that girls migrate for many different and often overlapping reasons: to overcome poverty, to get away from an abusive home, to find work, to further their education and to escape political or other forms of oppression.
“Noting that they are most usually undocumented or irregular, and if unaccompanied or separated their vulnerability is even heightened. Being foreign and undocumented makes migrant girls easy target for abuse. Because these girls are in most cases undocumented, if they experience abuse, exploitation or are killed in the process of domestic or any form of gender-based violence there is no record of such cases as they will be unidentified” says Nyika Machenjedze, Children on the Move Project Manager.
SCSA further calls on the South African law enforcement to exercise due care in their handling of abuse cases of migrant girls and many other children to encourage reporting of these hidden criminal acts being committed in our land. Thoroughinvestigations without secondary victimisation, when migrant girls report abuse will go a long way in improving protection of this vulnerable category.
“In most cases the parents maybe be undocumented, which mean the children will also be irregular. If they are molested or abused, the family discourage the children from reporting the cases in fear of being victimised for the lack of documentation. Hence they suffer abuse in silence which gives the perpetrators more power to continue. We have come across cases in which people try to report cases of abuse of migrant girls and instead of the authority attending to the case of abuse they turn it all on documentation and ignore abuse totally,” adds Machenjedze.
Through our Children on the Move Project, we have reached some of these girls who are hidden in homes, out of school and some of the children have been put into child care system, with some successfully reunifying with their families in the country of origin.
For more information or to set up interviews contact: Sibusiso Khasa on 073 449 6871or [email protected]
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