News articles

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...

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...

Ubuntu and the debate over child protection

Ubuntu and the debate over child protection

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Recent public comment days for the Children’s Amendment Bills brought a stark reminder that many sectors of government still believe that ubuntu is the panacea for all of our orphans’ ills. Ubuntu, by definition, is about our humanity to others. In the context of child protection, it is epitomised by community-based care and the principle...

The great adoption process power struggle

The great adoption process power struggle

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Since the advent of the Children’s Act in 2005, adopting a child in South Africa has become a bit like a Mission impossible adventure set in the Big Brother house: it is the ultimate ‘against the odds’ undertaking but also characterised by invasive scrutiny, and weeks and months that pass where absolutely nothing happens. Thanks...

Lies, Damned Lies and statistics: Unravelling SA’s child trafficking condundrum

Lies, Damned Lies and statistics: Unravelling SA’s child trafficking condundrum

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster In modern society there are few things as truly evil as human trafficking, especially when it involves children, and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s argument for those afflicted by the scourge is compelling. But his supposed solution has once again been called into question along with the statistical basis for the plan. It begs the...

Abandoned children, South Africa’s dirty little secret

Abandoned children, South Africa’s dirty little secret

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Around 3,500 children are abandoned in South Africa annually. News of yet another child found dead or left in a precarious position elicits strong public condemnation and emotion. Public consensus on the issue of child abandonment generally provokes a knee-jerk response to blame and demonise mothers. But despite our deeply felt beliefs, research has indicated...

Cry, the Beloved Children

Cry, the Beloved Children

By Robyn Wolfson Vorster Child Protection Week has come and gone.  If you failed to notice, you’re not alone. Given other pressing issues like fire-pools, football and financial rewards, it wasn’t highlighted very well. These days government seems to be too busy defending itself to also be defending our vulnerable children.   In the context of the $10million alleged...

Babies not for sale. Or are they?

Babies not for sale. Or are they?

By Robyn Wolfson Vorster IT WAS a shock, turning on the radio recently and hearing a government official publicly questioning my motives for adopting my beautiful daughter. In an interview on Talk Radio 702 about the declining number of adoptions, the spokeswoman for the Department of Social Development declared defensively that “our babies aren’t for sale”. The statement came...