7 March 2014
The government has encouraged South African parents and communities at large to educate their children on their rights during this year’s Human Rights month.
Section 28 of South Africa’s Constitution a is devoted to children and outlines the rights that they are entitled to.
“It is important that children are cognisant of their rights,” acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO Phumla Williams said in Pretoria on Friday, calling on parents, communities and children to engage in conversations around children’s rights, and to teach children to speak up when they feel that their rights have been violated.
“Parents should continually engage their children about issues such as rape, inappropriate touching, bullying, violence and abuse, amongst others,” Williams said. “The important step is for a child to report any incident or behaviour that may be associated with the infringement of their rights.”
Children are encouraged to report such incidents to parents, teachers, or any person that they trust. Children can also call Childline on 08 000 55 555.
Williams said the government had gone to great lengths to ensure that laws and other mechanisms were in place to safeguard children’s rights.
“There are also government-led outreach initiatives that educate the public on the rights of children. However, parents and communities also play an integral part in punting the message.”
Call to celebrate Human Rights Day
On Thursday, meanwhile, the Cabinet called on South Africans to celebrate Human Rights Day on 21 March. This year’s Human Rights Day will be held under the theme: “Celebrating 20 years of changing lives through human rights”.
President Jacob Zuma is expected to address the main Human Rights Day celebration in Sharpeville, Gauteng – the scene of the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960, when police opened fire on unarmed people protesting against apartheid’s pass laws, killing 69 and injuring 180 others.
South Africa declared 21 March a public holiday in 1994, following the inauguration of former president Nelson Mandela.
“Cabinet calls on South Africans to celebrate living in a country that guarantees that never again will humanity be taken from any South African, irrespective of their race, gender, creed or sexual orientation,” Williams told reporters in Pretoria on Thursday following the Cabinet’s latest meeting.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure that our human rights record and history are preserved and strengthened for future generations.”