A community based organisation in Livingstone says child prostitution and early marriages cannot be curbed by mere pronouncements in the media.
Tutalike Life Begins Coordinator Susiku Mwanangombe said as long as resources were not availed to safeguard children’s welfare and keeping them in schools, children would resort to early marriages and prostitution to sustain themselves and their families.
“It is unrealistic to expect a child prostitute to refrain from the vice when they cannot even afford to be in school,” Ms Mwanangombe said.
She said this in Livingstone on Thursday during a discussion on child prostitution and early marriages organized by the Media Network on Child Rights and Development.
And Ms Mwanangombe bemoaned the introduction of Parent Teacher Associations in community schools saying the Association contributed to the high drop out of vulnerable children from schools.
She said PTAs made numerous demands which vulnerable families could not meet and appealed to government to intervene.
Ms Mwanangombe urged government to implement free education policy for vulnerable children as this would reduce the number of those engaging in detrimental vices such as prostitution.
“We need things to change and not just on paper. A lot of vulnerable children in Livingstone are not in school not because they failed but because they do not have the required resources to continue their education,” she said.
Earlier, Media Network on Child Rights and Development Programs Manager, Prisca Sikana said Livingstone in particular and southern province in general had not been spared by incidents of child prostitution and early marriages.
Ms Sikana said this situation called for the empowerment of children to enable them make informed decisions.
“We believe an empowered child can protect themselves and if given the capacity to know their rights and responsibilities, will be able to do what is in their best interests,” she said.
Meanwhile, Livingstone District HIV and AIDS Coordinating Advisor, Steven Ndebele said most HIV transmissions were taking place in the 15 to 25 – year – old age group.
Mr Ndebele attributed this development to Livingstone being a border town and transit area for many travellers.
He however, said there was need to carry out a research to determine the extent of child prostitution and early marriages in Livingstone.