Save the Children Sweden’s regional office in South Africa published three reports on the interplay between African custom and children’s protection rights in South Africa and Zambia. Written principally by Patricia Martin of Advocacy Aid, the studies document and analyse a range of practices in both countries that either promote or inhibit children’s protection rights, such as the rights to parental care, protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation, protection against corporal punishment, health care, and participation.
The studies find that in both countries there is a strong child protection core within African custom, but that that core has been diluted over time in the face of economic and social pressures. In the case of these practices, the reports recommend the revival of protective practices.
The reports also find that there are a number of practices that are harmful to children, and recommends that traditional communities, led in the main by traditional leaders, be the main drivers of change of harmful practices so as to ensure that the rights of children in traditional communities are protected. Whilst the reports recommend that traditional leaders, parents, caregivers, children and other traditional institution take the lead in developing customs to make them child protective, there is a strong role for a much wider array of role players such as the courts, the legislature and civil society. Save the Children Sweden commissioned the development of advocacy material in the way of a child-friendly cartoon and a series of fact sheets to support advocacy initiatives for the promotion of positive African customary practices and the development of harmful practices.