Guess what!

…Your God won’t love you less if you adopt a black baby!

There are thousands of infants and children who need homes. There are many reasons for this: they are born at an inconvenient time – “a mistake”; economic constraints or prejudice against the parents result in many children being abandoned; abortion may be prohibited amongst certain groups; the child may be a product of incest or rape and it is emotionally damaging for the mother to look after the child; or the parents are deceased.

People consider adopting for many reasons, and it is a personal choice to have an age, race and religious preference. There is nothing wrong with that, but the ugly truth is, black just does not fit into families. Black cats and dogs are the last to be adopted, that is a fact.

Another fact that is hard to swallow is that it isn’t any different for black children who are always the last to be adopted, some are never adopted and spend their lives moving from one orphanage to the next.

If you spend time with a child who does not fit into your ideals, but whom you have a connection with and you could provide a great life for that, is it not your responsibility to give that child a home? Or will you say, sorry, she’s not indian/white so I can’t.



  • Works long hours for low wages
  • Not a member of pesky trade unions
  • Works under extreme and dangerous situations
  • Does not ask for breaks
  • Does not complain
  • Will not argue with you

Can you guess who this is??

The appeal of using child labour is obvious – children are compliant and can be easily intimidated; they do not have trade unions to bargain for better pay and working conditions; and they are innocent and uneducated which makes them easy to exploit.

There are many stages of production in the fashion, construction and agricultural industries and shrewd employers get away with using child labour because large companies and customers cannot keep track of every stage of the process. In 2001, one of the biggest brands in the world took a major blow when they admitted to using child labour in Pakistan and Cambodia. This sent other brands spiraling on a course to ensure that they were not going to suffer the same fate. And while Nike has recovered from that (due to extensive CSI and governance measures) and rised to popularity again, the reality is devastating – even with businesses actively implementing extravagant CSI initiatives and encouraging ethical practice, the use of child labour has found its place in the market.

Next week, 4 April 2015, is Child Labour Day in South Africa, and I thought it would be appropriate to think, and encourage discussion about this problem. I have chosen some photos from the inter-web that depict the seriousness and gravity of child labour. Essentially, it is abuse. It deprives them of their childhood and exposes them to dangerous environments. SO WHY DOES IT OCCUR? Because they are the perfect employees.

There is a definite correlation between poverty, lack of education and child labour. Countries like India and Bangladesh have some of the highest rates of poverty and child labour, recruiters convince impoverished parents to allow their young children to work at their factories. There are promises of meals, accommodation, education and a good pay. Sounds great, right? It would be except the children who are as young as 5 years old, are forced to work in appalling conditions – earning nothing more than a few cents. Their parents are too poor, too ignorant and too desperate to protect them.

(not)child’s play

I am extremely delighted to hear that Malawi has banned child marriages, or more specifically, girl-child marriages. Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world – forget playing with friends and going to school, girl-wives must accept a lifetime of submission to look after the household and their husbands.

When you hear the words “child marriage” you know it is a problem but it may not seem like a life threatening problem in comparison to “poverty” or “violence” because the term marriage is cloaked with love and respect and a lifelong unity, so how is that a bad thing? Firstly, poverty is one of the primary reasons girls are married – their families cannot afford to look after them, and secondly, abuse within marriage is rife.

Child marriages destroy a girl’s childhood, it propels them into womanhood at a meteoric speed, yet denies them an education or any chance of financial independence. When I was 11 years old, I had barely understood what changes my body was going through and what that meant, I cannot imagine being married and having children at that age. Thousands of girls don’t need to imagine what that is like, they live the reality – from as early as 9 years old. It is a reality that is much darker than playing house, these young girls are sent to sexual initiation camps to “cleanse” them of their youth where they are forced to have sex with an older man. It pains me to think of the trauma this causes, however, it does not stop there. Once married, girls are often subjected to abuse by their husbands (who are grown men) – emotionally, sexually, physically and verbally. It infringes on their right to dignity, among other fundamental rights.

I read an article by an attorney who wrote that, after seeing the “women” in Malawi with their babies and husbands, she turned to the law, hoping that it would protect children. To summarize, she found out that the Constitution of Malawi did not prohibit child marriages, and children were classified as anyone under that age of 16 years old. Our South African Constitution is, in my opinion, one of the best on the continent. It explicitly states and protects ALL our fundamental rights and unlike, Malawi, is not in conflict with the international standards of the definition of childhood. So, reading that, I felt hopeful that if we are so progressive with our legislation, it will not be long until other African countries follow.

And follow they did – February 2015: the Marriage, Divorce & Family Relations Bill of 2015 was promulgated. This bill prohibits the marriage of children under the age of 18 years old. Obviously, implementation is key but I am incredibly optimistic now that it is legally enforceable. We must commend the thousands of activists that led the campaign to abolish girl-child marriage.