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Malawi rights body protest Madonna adoption


Malawi rights body protest Madonna adoption

image Madonna at Malawi High Court in Lilongwe. --Picture by Rabecca Chimjeka

Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) a network of Malawi rights NGO’s has joined the joined the British charity, Save the Children, to oppose second adoption of US pop star Madonna in the country.

Madonna, 50 who officially logged adoption bid of four-year-old girl Chifundo James in Malawi High Court in Lilongwe on Monday and is due to hear the determination by Judge Esmie Chombo on Friday.

But HRCC has issued a statement signed by its chairman Undule Mwakasungula and executive director Mabvuto Bamusi echoing  Save the Children UK stand.

"HRCC shares sentiments by the British charity, Save the Children, which is of the view that the best place for the child is his or her family or community. Just to remind that this is the position held in guidelines for orphans and vulnerable children,” said the statement issued to the media.

“These guidelines must not be abandoned in pursuit of the commercial interest that may be harboured by adopting families,” HRCC said in the statement.

Spokesman of Save the Children Dominic Nutt said in a statement  that foreign adoptions should happen only if a child does not have any relatives, and all other options have been considered.

Malawi’s umbrella body of rights group said “it is already clear that Malawi laws prohibit international or inter-country adoption.”

“If the conduct like Madonna’s are left unchecked, this cumulates to a bigger legal problem when more people especially adoption agencies and institutions use the same channel to adopt Malawi babies, " Mwakasungula and Bamusi said in a statement.

Journalist Rebecca Chimjeka told Nyasa Times from the capital Lilongwe that HRCC held a news conference where Mwakasungula and Bamusi said that it is the organisation’s prayer to request the court to direct government of Malawi to set up proper child protection system so that the country takes care of its own children as obliged under Convention on the Rights of Children.

Chimjeka said the rights activists claimed “Malawian authorities have been bulldozed by Madonna's money.”

She said Mwakasungula accused Madonna of behaving as a “bully” using money and her celebrity status “to manipulate, to fast-track the process."

Under Malawian law, foreign adopters would have to spend a year or more living in the African country with the children they want to adopt.

According to Zione Ntaba, spokesperson for Attorney General Chambers, the purpose of the law is for the authorities to observe the prospective parent to make sure the relationship is not abusive -- "that the parent will behave well around the child."

Ntaba told CNN that American or British social services may also provide the monitoring and in the case of David Banda, the first Malawian child Madonna adopted, Malawi social services officers traveled to the United Kingdom to visit the child in Madonna's home.

CNN’s Kiran Chetry in an exclusive interview with Save the Children spokesman on Monday morning said that the figures from UNICEF show that for every 1,000 births in Malawi, 120 children die. The life expectancy is only 44 years old. And most children over the age of 10 do not attend school, and then asked “wouldn't life be better for some of these children who have no living parents, who would at least be in another country where their basic needs could be met and they could get a decent education?”

Nutt said it would be better to solve the problems of Malawi and help Malawians solve their own problems by educating, feeding and helping their children so they can get off the cycle of poverty.

“If we are concerned about the population of Malawi being in a very difficult situation, we can't transport them all to Queens in New York or to Kensington in London to make that difference. The difference has to be made on the ground. Otherwise, we really are shuffling the deck chairs on the deck of the Titanic,” said Save the Children spokesman.

Many ordinary Malawians apparently are approving the adoption of Chifundo James to be sister to David Banda who was also adopted in Malawi.

2009 Mar 30