Birth Registration: Citizenship can be obtained by birth either in the country or birth to a citizen parent. Particularly in rural areas, births often were not registered immediately. Children who wish to start school at age six must be registered. Failure to register can also prevent one from obtaining health care and public documents, such as identity cards or passports.
Education: Education is compulsory through completion of primary school, grades one to seven. However, primary school completion remained beyond the reach of many families, especially in rural areas, as geographical coverage of upper primary school (grades six and seven) does not match the almost full national coverage of lower primary school (grades one to five). While public primary school education is officially free, there are indirect costs associated with supplies and uniforms. Despite joint government-NGO initiatives in some localities and districts to improve girls’ school attendance, it continued to be significantly lower than for boys, especially at the secondary and higher levels.
Child Abuse: UNICEF noted that child abuse was a growing concern. Most child abuse cases involved sexual abuse, physical abuse, or negligence. Several cases of fathers sexually abusing their daughters were reported. Sexual abuse in schools was a growing problem. There were press reports during the year about the large numbers of high school-age girls coerced into having sex by their teachers in order to pass to the next grade. In July, in response to these abuses, the Ministry of Women and Social Action launched a nationwide radio campaign against sexual abuse of children, with influential members of society calling for an end to the abuse of minors. The LDH reported that there were many court cases and several convictions for sexual harassment and abuse by teachers during the year, but could not provide numbers.
While the government continued to stress the importance of children’s rights and welfare, significant problems remained. A 2008 law on child protection contains sections dealing with protection against physical and sexual abuse; removal from parents who are unable to defend, assist, and educate them; and the establishment of minors’ courts to deal with matters of adoption, maintenance, and regulating parental power. The LDH reported successful resolution of cases in juvenile courts regarding support for children after divorces or the end of relationships and that the courts, in the LDH’s estimation, had ruled according to the rights and best interests of the children.
The Network against the Abuse of Minors continued its efforts to put into practice the child protection law's provisions. It maintained a hotline call center and responded to hundreds of calls but lacked the resources to deliver meaningful assistance on a large scale.
Child Marriage: The 2005 Family Law sets the minimum age of marriage for both genders at 18 for those with parental consent, and 21 for those without it. Local custom, primarily in the northern provinces and in Muslim and South Asian communities, allowed underage marriage. According to UNICEF data collected between 2000 and 2009, approximately 38 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Without specifying prison terms or fine amounts, the law prohibits pornography, child prostitution, and sexual abuse of children under 18; however, exploitation of children below the age of 18 and child prostitution remained problems. While the law on protecting children is being implemented, regulations for many sections of the law had not been fully drafted by year’s end. For example, during the year there were prosecutions for sexual abuse of children, although no prosecutions for pornography or child prostitution were reported. Child prostitution appeared to be most prevalent in Maputo, Nampula, Beira, at border towns, and at overnight stopping points along key transportation routes. Child prostitution reportedly was growing in the Maputo, Beira, Chimoio, and Nacala areas, which had highly mobile populations and a large number of transport workers. Child prostitution also was reported in Sofala and Zambezia provinces. Some NGOs provided health care, counseling, and training in other vocations to children, primarily girls, engaged in prostitution.
Displaced Children: Zimbabwean children, many who had entered the country alone, continued to face labor exploitation and discrimination. They lacked protection due to inadequate documentation and had limited access to schools and other social welfare institutions, largely due to lack of resources. Coercion, both physical and economic, of Zimbabwean girls into the sex industry was common, particularly in Manica Province.
Child beggars, who appeared to be living on the streets, were visible in major urban areas, but no nationwide figures were available.
Several government agencies, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women and Social Action, implemented programs to provide health assistance and vocational education for HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children, but as parents continued to die, the number of orphans increased.
The Maputo City Office of Women and Social Action continued its program to rescue abandoned orphans and assist single mothers who headed families of three or more persons, but their scope of action was limited due to lack of funding. It also offered special classes in local schools to children of broken homes. NGOs sponsored food, shelter, and education programs in all major cities.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.