The IFP's question over who is protecting our nation's children highlights an immediate crisis.
IFP Spokesperson on Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Ms Liezl van der Merwe MP, stated in Parliament on Tuesday that the recent celebration of Children's Day, and the fast approaching 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, take place against a backdrop of increasing child prostitution.
Ms van der Merwe previously raised this issue when reports surfaced of impoverished and unemployed young South Africans selling their bodies for a few Rand in order to eat. Instead of being in school, securing their future, these children are on the streets, at the mercy of pimps and sexual predators. "Poverty plays a key role," said van der Merwe, "but we need to understand all the drivers of this crisis so that we can fight it at the root."
This issue has again taken centre stage as the media reports that a mother is currently on the run from Police after allegedly selling her daughter to several men for R50 in order to buy alcohol. "I am heartbroken," said van der Merwe, "When I raised this issue in the media and in Parliament, I asked 'What if this were your child?', because I believe that that is how we should see these children. They are our children. They are our responsibility. How then can a mother do this to her own child?"
Sadly, the IFP is aware that this tragedy plays out in many households, in many forms. It is therefore urgent that communities not wait for 16 Days of Activism to live by the motto: 'Don't Look Away, Act Against Abuse'.
"The IFP calls on all our citizens to be become whistleblowers to protect children against sexual abuse, even from their own families. Selling your child for sex is abuse. It is not just morally reprehensible, it is a crime," said van der Merwe. "Again I ask the Police to investigate with greater urgency, to treat this as a crisis, and to work hand in hand with NGOs who work to protect our children. For who else is protecting them?
Despite Government's responsibility to protect and assist vulnerable young people, child prostitution and sexual abuse continue."
The IFP renews its call on the Department of Social Development to increase the number of social workers in areas highlighted by Police as being child prostitution hotspots. Government cannot leave all its work to NGOs.