Social Welfare ministry has called on the media to be factual and stop disseminating incorrect information amid calls by stakeholders to stop labeling victims of commercial sexual exploitation as child prostitutes.
Addressing a National Dialogue on Child prostitution early this week, Provincial Social Welfare Officer, Susan Ngani stated that journalists should bear in mindful of the damage of misinformation by getting adequate details before going public.
This followed a broadcast programme aired on Star FM a few weeks ago of two young girls from Epworth who were alleged to be aged 9 and 11 and involved in commercial sex. The girls ages have since been disputed with the Ministry of Social Work saying they are 15 and 17 years old.
“It is important to disseminate correct information especially about children; the young girls from Epworth who were alleged to be 9 and 11 are actually 15 and 17 years old. I can testify to this and have evidence as I had an interview with the children, said Ngani.
She alleged that non-governmental organizations are diverting from their mandate, going to Hopley and dealing with issues the wrong way.
“I am not going to mention the organizations by name but these organizations are diverting from their core business onto doing harm to our children,
“These organizations are trusts and trusts do not work with children but adults, it is wrong for them to engage with the children promoting anti-social behavior,” added Ngani.
Ministry of Social Welfare has been assisting the young girls in Hopley and is planning to relocate children who are at risk of commercial sex exploitation.
“On a the 8th and 9th of September 2017, 54 girls aged 11-19 were removed from Hopley to places of safety,
“Efforts are currently underway to remove more children who are at the risk of commercial sexual exploitation,” she said.
Ngani called on society not to refer children involved in commercial sex exploitation as child prostitutes as they are victims.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Ngoni Masoka noted that child commercial sexual exploitation which is prevalent in Epworth, Hopley and Caledonia as a big problem that needs to addressed as soon as possible.
Masoka said they have plans to engage various stakeholders in an effort to protect children by moving them to safer environments.