Child protection

Undocumented children in SA: Averting the coming catastrophe

Undocumented children in SA: Averting the coming catastrophe

Just days before the start of Child Protection Week 2017, a physiotherapist in Soweto made the horror discovery of a nine-year-old disabled boy, naked, rat bitten, covered in faeces and starving to death, one of 14 living in a tiny shack. He is the face of undocumented children in Gauteng, he is the reason why we can no longer...

Adoptions in KwaZulu-Natal: Control, collateral damage and unintended consequences

Adoptions in KwaZulu-Natal: Control, collateral damage and unintended consequences

Robyn Wolfson Vorster After 18 months of agonising stalemate in KwaZulu Natal adoptions, two vulnerable children, a questionable social development decision and a landmark High Court ruling may have paved the way for adoptions to resume in the province. But in the strange world of government’s unintended consequences, inter-country adoptions could now be easier than local ones. It surely...

Dirty tricks, delays and deception: The sabotage of child protection

Dirty tricks, delays and deception: The sabotage of child protection

Robyn Wolfson Vorster In May 2016, the Department of Social Development called an immediate halt to adoptions in KwaZulu-Natal over alleged child trafficking. A year later, and despite an ugly witch hunt against one local family, the assertions remain unproven. But the adoption process in the province with the highest number of orphans has been radically altered. The new...

The aftermath of child abandonment

The aftermath of child abandonment

There are very few stories told about how it feels to be abandoned at birth.  It makes Sindi’s amazing account of being aborted and abandoned when her mother was six months pregnant even more powerful. Miraculously, she survived her abandonment, and is now in her 40s. Despite her prematurity and a very unsettled childhood, where she was moved from one...

Social Development: Going to hell in a handbasket

Social Development: Going to hell in a handbasket

Robyn Wolfson Vorster   Over the course of the Social Grants crisis, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini was accused of incompetence, ulterior motives and most famously of showing “disdain for the country’s most vulnerable”.  All appear apt, but it is disdain for the weak and the poor that has most characterised the recent debacle, and her tenure...

The deadly power of patriarchy

The deadly power of patriarchy

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster In the few short weeks of 2017, the world has taken a lumbering step backwards in the battle against patriarchy, thanks largely to America’s new president and his unlikely ally, Russia. But here in South Africa, despite a female presidential aspirant (or two), and the president’s undertakings to advocate for women, the situation re patriarchy...

Home Affairs names and shames SA’s abandoned children

Home Affairs names and shames SA’s abandoned children

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Child abandonment is a scourge in South Africa. As numbers soar, the battle is on to ensure that abandonment does not permanently define the lives of survivors. But those efforts are being severely hampered by the Department of Home Affairs’ decision to disclose to the public the abandonment status of some children. As a practice,...

Child abandonment in SA: hidden & heart-breaking

Child abandonment in SA: hidden & heart-breaking

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Despite the occasional headline, child abandonment in South Africa remains largely unreported.  The little we do know reveals that it is both shockingly prevalent, and deadly.  So why is it so wide-spread and what can be done to prevent it, or at the least, minimise its impact? In the absence of comprehensive government-led research, it...

Fearing the foreigner: When child protection and institutionalised xenophobia collide

Fearing the foreigner: When child protection and institutionalised xenophobia collide

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Adoption, like all child protection initiatives, is predicated on the principle of “the best interests of the child”. Except when it isn’t. In some significant matters, government agenda has overridden this tenet, at times with disastrous and even tragic consequences. One of the areas where this is most evident is “foreigners”: foreigners resident in South Africa...

A mounting tally of small bodies: Why are we killing our children?

A mounting tally of small bodies: Why are we killing our children?

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Three recent cases of violence against children highlight the gap between what can be done and what is (or isn’t) done. The government often responds to such social crises on an advocacy level, whereas what is needed, and will make a difference, is a reaction based on policy and aimed at saving lives. South Africa...

Dear Innocents, we failed you

Dear Innocents, we failed you

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster An open letter to aborted twin girls.   Dear Innocents, Today could have been your birthday.  Instead it marks a month since your mother aborted you, placed you in a plastic bag and left you under a “safe abortions” sign. Now I think about you every day.  So many questions remain unanswered: Why did your...

Without a trace: the shocking fate of SA’s abandoned children

Without a trace: the shocking fate of SA’s abandoned children

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Researching child abandonment in South Africa is akin to opening Pandora’s box. Coupled as it is with illegal, late-term abortion, the body count (when you can find them) amounts to tens of thousands. It could be many times that amount; perhaps we would know if the government was ever prepared to count them. Criminal activity...