Birth Registration: The constitution provides for citizenship by birth to those born within the country’s territory to a citizen parent or a foreign parent ordinarily resident in the country, or to those born outside the country to citizen parents. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, approximately 98 percent of Namibians have a birth certificate or other identifying document. Although prohibited by law, anecdotal evidence suggests teachers in regions bordering Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana sometimes refused to teach children who could not prove citizenship. Parents who did not register their children at birth often faced a difficult subsequent registration process and long delays. If a child’s parents died before registering their child with the government, and if the child did not obtain the needed death certificates or other necessary documentation for his or her parents, the child faced still greater challenges in proving citizenship and accessing government services.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, in partnership with UNICEF, continued efforts to provide birth certificates for newborns at clinics and hospitals throughout the country, including through mobile registration vans and establishing birth registration offices at 11 high-volume hospitals.
Education: The constitution requires compulsory, tuition-free, and universal primary and junior secondary education until the age of 16; i.e., first through tenth grades. In January the Ministry of Education abolished all primary school fees (called “School Development Funds”), including for uniforms, books, boarding costs, and school improvement, since those fees became, in effect, tuition fees that prevented poor children from attending primary school.
Secondary schools generally enrolled more girls than boys. Many children, including children from destitute families, did not attend school, but the government continued to provide mobile schools for children who lived in semipermanent settlements. In 2012 approximately 1,400 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was a serious problem, and authorities prosecuted crimes against children, particularly rape and incest, if reported. According to police records and media reports, in 2011 approximately 750 children and juveniles were killed, raped, or assaulted. In 2012 that number grew to approximately 870. Police reported three cases of incest against a child in 2012, up from one in 2011. The true incidence of child abuse was thought to exceed greatly the number of reported cases.
Forced and Early Marriage: The law prohibits civil marriages before the age of 18; however, child marriage occurred in customary ceremonies. According to the UNFPA, 10 percent of women married in 2007 were girls under 18.
Harmful Traditional Practices: During the year there were no reports of female genital mutilation/cutting. The women’s rights organizations Sister Namibia and the Women’s Leadership Center continued to condemn cultural practices of initiation sex for young girls, including dry sex (the practice of applying astringents to the vagina before sexual intercourse to enhance male pleasure) and the stretching of the labia minora.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law criminalizes the actions of both the client and the pimp in cases of sexual exploitation of children under age 18, and also criminalizes child pornography and child prostitution.
Sexual exploitation of children occurred. NGOs that worked with sex workers reported that, in most cases, children engaged in prostitution without third party involvement due to economic pressures on the child or as a means of survival among HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children. These NGOs and social workers reported that children often entered prostitution between the ages of 12 and 14. Such children allegedly often had been abused before leaving home to enter the sex trade. Older partners’ offers of money, cell phones, or other gifts lured others.
The maximum penalty for soliciting a child under age 16 for sex, or more generally for commercial sexual exploitation of a child (including through pornography) is a fine not exceeding N$40,000 ($3,982), imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or both. Exposing a child to pornography is also illegal. Penalties for cases involving 16- or 17-year-olds are the same as for adults. The law makes special provisions to protect vulnerable witnesses, including those under age 18 or against whom a sexual offense has been committed.
Under the law the client of a sex worker under age 16 may be imprisoned for up to 15 years for a first offense and up to 45 years for repeat offenses. Any person who aids and abets the trafficking of persons--including child prostitution--either within the country or across the border is liable to a fine of up to N$1,000,000 ($99,542) or imprisonment of up to 50 years. The solicitation of a prostitute, living off the earnings of prostitution, or keeping a brothel carries a penalty of N$40,000 ($3,982), 10 years in prison, or both. Anyone found to be soliciting in public is also guilty of an offense under the law. The constitution’s strict protection of privacy and the law’s emphasis on deleterious and financial aspects of prostitution rather than the sex act itself, however, hindered police in making arrests for prostitution.
The minimum legal age for consensual sex is 16. The penalty for statutory rape (sex with a child under the age of 14) is a minimum of five years in prison. There is no minimum penalty for sexual relations with a child between the ages of 14 and 16. Possession of or international trade in child pornography is also illegal. The government continued to train police officials to improve the handling of child sex abuse cases. Centers for abused women and children worked to reduce the trauma suffered by abused children.
Neither the government nor civil society keeps statistics on sex tourism, although there is anecdotal evidence that a small amount of it exists.
HIV/AIDS orphans--although declining in number during the year--were especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: The media continued to report numerous cases in which parents, usually young mothers, abandoned and sometimes killed newborns for whom they felt they were not able to care. A 2011 public survey conducted by the government, LAC, and UNICEF indicated that the main reasons mothers abandoned their babies were that the father denied paternity, the mother was a student, or the mother did not know about other options such as adoption. Of the 3,742 respondents, 28 percent (mostly between the ages of 19 and 30) indicated they would abandon their baby to die if they found out they or, in the case of men, their girlfriends, were pregnant and did not want the baby.
Displaced Children: During the year the government continued efforts to provide medical care, school fees, social grants, and other assistance to HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child abduction.