South Africa (CRC 27-10-2016)
The Committee considered the second periodic report of South Africa (CRC/C/ZAF/2) at its 2141st and 2142nd meetings (see CRC/C/SR.2141 and 2142), held on 19 September 2016, and adopted the present concluding observations at its 2160th meeting (see CRC/C/SR.2160), held on 30 September 2016.
23. The Committee is concerned at the discrimination faced by girls, children living with HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities, indigenous children, stateless children, migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children, children in street situations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children and children with albinism in accessing basic services and child protection services, and at their heightened exposure to violence, abuse and harassment. The Committee is also concerned at the serious divide in access to basic services and an adequate standard of living in the country on the basis of race, geography and economic status, with a disproportionate disadvantage for children living in rural areas and in urban informal settlements.
24. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Place strong focus on the eradication of structural inequality and discrimination in all legislative, policy and programmatic measures to advance the rights of the child, paying particular attention to children living with HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities, indigenous children, stateless children, migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children, children in street situations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children and children with albinism, and to the accumulative impact of multiple discrimination;
(b) Enhance its efforts to raise the awareness of children and the general public about gender equality and actively promote it in education, from early childhood education, in order to eradicate discriminatory gender stereotyping and gender discrimination.
39. The Committee is concerned at the high prevalence of harmful practices in the State party, which include child and forced marriage, virginity testing, witchcraft, female genital mutilation, polygamy, violent or harmful initiation rites and intersex genital mutilation. The Committee is also concerned that, although the practice of ukuthwala involving children is considered an “abuse of ukuthwala” and is a crime, as the State party noted during the dialogue, this practice still exists.
40. In the light of its general comment No. 18 (2014) on harmful practices, adopted jointly with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Ensure that its legislation prohibits all forms of harmful practices carried out on children in the State party, including by, among other things, criminalizing the practice of child and forced marriage and regulating initiation schools;
(b) Develop and adopt an effective national action plan to eliminate such practices;
(c) Ensure the meaningful participation of all stakeholders, including children affected by or at risk of being affected by harmful practices, and their communities, in developing, adopting, implementing and monitoring the implementation of relevant laws and policies;
(d) Guarantee the bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination of all children, including intersex children, by avoiding unnecessary medical or surgical treatment during infancy and childhood;
(e) Build the capacity of all professional groups working for and with children to prevent, identify and respond to incidents of harmful practices and to eliminate customary practices and rituals that are harmful to children;
(f) Ensure sanctions for perpetrators of harmful practices, including perpetrators of the abuse of ukuthwala, and provide effective remedies to the victims of harmful practices.