Gaborone — The plight of children who are denied their rights to maintenance and inheritance because their parents were not married remains a burning issue in the country, so says the chairman of the Botswana Society.
Professor Bojosi Otlhogile said a lot of people still felt that for a child to inherit from his/her father the parents needed to be married and in many instances the children were denied that right, some citing culture as a reason for such cruelty.
Speaking during an event themed: Does culture contribute to the discrimination of children born out of wedlock, in Gaborone recently, he said children born out of wedlock were labelled and discriminated.
Kgosi Fanuel Mokalake of Modipane also expressed concern over greedy families who still excluded children born out of wedlock from inheriting from their fathers.
He said inheritance cases involving children born out of wedlock were very common at his office, and the children are usually denied rights to inherit their fathers' properties and some are called derogatory names like, 'bana ba dinyatsi.'
Kgosi Mokalake called on parents to interrogate the protection of children's rights in customary inheritance cases and also encouraged them to legally adopt their children and write wills while still alive
A metal health activist from Botswana Network for Mental Health, Ms Charity Kennedy said mental health has a lot to do with how one relates with the environment, copes with life stressors, potential realisation, fruitfulness, productiveness and purpose.
She said challenges that affected children born out of wedlock deprived them of their human rights or being a child before a label.
Ms Kennedy stated that these challenges may lead to identity crisis, low self-esteem, worthlessness and isolation.
She said if socio-economic and psychological problems were not well handled, they may affect the ability for these children to realise their purpose, potential and how to cope with normal stresses of life, to a point where it could lead to mental health problems like suicide, anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
She emphasised reassessing how boy children were raised and empower male individuals, as it could contribute to the type of man the child grows into.
Broken parents are raising broken, fearful children, whose quality of decision making is very poor, hence she called on the nation to take consider the importance of counseling to heal emotions.
Ms Kennedy said the damage of an absent parent or an emotionally unavailable one affected the man or the woman one becomes in society, hence fostering parent/child communication is very important.
She appealed to society to take into account the dynamics surrounding children born out of wedlock, as some may be from parents who were victims of rape, incest and such parents were also fragile and their experiences could also determine how they treat children.
She suggested that parents should invest in counselling as it enhances closure for the child and the mother, advocate against labelling, parent/child communication, improve on how a boy child is raised, early mental health screening and family courts.
Source : BOPA