Children’s rights in Swaziland are under protected and are in a ‘difficult situation,’ according to a global survey.
The kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, scored 6.07 out of ten in The Realization of Children’s Rights Index (RCRI).
This is a grade between zero and ten that shows the level of realization of children’s rights in a country. The lower the score, the lower is the realisation of rights. The RCRI index classified rights for children in Swaziland as a ‘difficult situation’.
The survey was conducted by Humanium, an international child sponsorship NGO dedicated to stopping violations of children’s rights throughout the world.
In a report Humanium highlighted a number of areas where children’s rights were violated. It said that some children ‘remain starving’ while the King ‘leads a lifestyle of luxury’.
It reported, ‘Along with the general economic slowdown as in all countries and the significant increase in unemployment these factors have made numerous households – already unable to feed their own children – turn away orphans or other needy children who would, in other times, be welcomed in the name of the “extended family.”
‘Even though some schools can offer daily, adequate lunches to children thanks to external financial aid, there are still many who remain starving, notably in the country.
‘It should be noted that the government is several months late in paying for aid for needy children, yet the King leads a lifestyle of luxury.’
Humanium added, ‘The health, hygienic, and water supply systems are in poor condition and have led to an outbreak of illnesses such as cholera and diarrheal sicknesses that still kill many children.
‘Each day children beg their neighbors for water. Many schools do not have running water and must count on deliveries from the government to fill their reservoirs during the dry season. However, this doesn’t always happen in zones that are further away.’
It added, ‘By necessity, many children become prostitutes to survive. Given the level of poverty, exploitation and sexual services are rising. The lack of measures taken to raise awareness and prevent these types of practices towards children is deplorable.’
The report is not the only one to highlight the plight of children in Swaziland. In April 2016, UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – reported it needed US$151,200 for its Child Protection work relating to the drought that has hit Swaziland. In June 2016 it reported that no money at all was forthcoming. It estimated that 189,000 children under the age of 18 were affected by the drought.
UNICEF reported in April 2016, ‘The UNICEF Child Protection and HIV response remains unfunded. Consequently, activities prioritizing protection of children from violence, abuse and exploitation and the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, both of which are long standing issues in Swaziland, remain to be implemented.’
Disabled children are also mistreated in Swaziland. Earlier in July 2016, the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that two disabled orphan children in Swaziland had been hidden from the world after a government official told their family it would harm the image of the kingdom if people knew of their condition.
The newspaper reported, ‘Their family was allegedly given strict instructions not to ever show the children to anyone or even discuss their condition in public.
‘It has been alleged by the head of the family where the two children stay that officials from certain government offices barred and gave strict instructions not to show the children to anyone because making their condition known would place the country in bad light.’
The newspaper added, ‘The children suffer from a rare disability and some of those who know about the children suspect they suffer from polio.’
Also, a report on people trafficking in Swaziland published in 2014 said the King used forced child labour to work in his fields. ‘Swazi chiefs may coerce children and adults - through threats and intimidation - to work for the King,’ the report from the United States State Department said.
ZERO FUNDS TO PROTECT KIDS FROM DROUGHT
SICK KIDS ‘HIDDEN TO SAVE IMAGE OF KINGDOM’
KIDS FORCED TO WEED KING’S FIELDS