Local journalists have called on the government to amend the constitution in order to align the age of maturity from 16 to 18 years as stipulated by the United Nations definitions of a child.
According to resolutions made at the end of a two-day workshop on Children and the Media that was held at the President Hotel in Gaborone early this week, the journalists called for the amendment arguing that teenagers aged between 16 and below 18 are currently disadvantaged by government systems.
“They are considered to be of consenting age for sex at 16 and yet they do not enjoy privileges of being adults. For example they cannot vote, own land, acquire a driver’s license, marry and be employed,” reads the resolution in part.
The constitution protects children under 16 against defilement, but leave them to make their own sexual decisions once they are above that age.
The journalists in their capacity as watch dogs of the society decided to hold the government to account for this group of children.
In fact during the first day of the workshop, on Monday, they were implored to take a lead from the front by holding policy makers to account and put children issues on national agenda.
Dr Doreen Mulenga of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said the media could be an excellent tool for galvanizing and mobilizing diverse arrays of perspectives that are capable of serving as conduits for civic action in as far as children’s issues are concerned.