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South African Children's Rights Bill Diluted, Say Activists - 2003-10-22

In South Africa, child rights advocates say they’re angry over attempts to speed passage of the “Children’s Bill.” They say the legislation in its current form has been stripped of important provisions. They also say fast-tracking the legislation may be done to give a political boost to members of the legislature ahead of next April’s elections.

Paula Proudlock is the child rights program manager at the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town. She spoke to English to Africa Joe De Capua about the “Children’s Bill.”

She says the new measure would replace the Child Care Act of 1983. However, she says the current form of the legislation has been “diluted,” due to “cost and a lack of political will to commit more resources.” She says an entire chapter on children’s rights has been nearly eliminated. Out of 20 rights originally listed, only five remain.

Also, a provision providing grants and subsidies to needy children and aid organizations have been eliminated. Ms. Proudlock says if the matter is taken up after the elections, parliamentarians won’t be rushed and will be able to consider the hundreds of provisions contained in the legislation. She says passage of the bill in its current form would simply take the country back to 1983, instead of looking at least ten years ahead.