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United Nations Secretary General's study on Violence against Children: Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Children's Consultation

© UNICEF photo by R Hearfield
A young delegate prepares his arguments in a working group session.

The purpose of the United Nations Secretary General's study on Violence against Children is to provide an in-depth picture of the prevalence, nature and causes of violence against children. It will put forward recommendations for consideration by Member States, the UN system and civil society for appropriate action, including effective remedies and preventive and rehabilitative measures at the national and international levels.

KAPAYA - Children’s final statement

Violence in schools

The school, a place of learning has turned out to be a nightmare because there is violence and it is unbearable.

To be punished mentally, emotionally and physically. Being severally beaten up, made to dig pits as dip as your height as well as being forced to go to bed with teachers leaving us in a position with no one to talk to. It is hard to tell anybody for fear of loosing our education. When we came to this consultation we had many expectations and we are proud to say that at least a big step has been taken to address our problems, because it is true that education is the key to our future.

Violence in institutions

Most African countries suffer the problem of poverty; as a result children are most affected. Most parents in such situations are not able to provide adequately.  For their children hence these children opt to go and earn a living for themselves.

This causes children to go and look for employment in institutions such as factories, mines and so on. Other children are just abandoned or just transferred to other countries to work as slaves. In the past few days we the children have been deliberating and coming up with recommendations to these already mentioned problems.

We have discussed these problems of child abuse and child labour. Most countries have signed the convention on the eradication of the worst forms of child labour, the law is there but it is not enforced. Children gave their various experiences such as working in mines and factories and others being child soldiers.

As the children we are appealing to the private sector and the UN to make awareness in communities to eradicate child labour. We are also appealing to the government to reinforce the laws on child labour in institutions. Government should abolish all form of child prostitution and make brothels illegal.

Violence against children is not only in workplace but also in institutions such as orphanages, youth centre and rehabilitation centre. As the children we are urging governments and private sector to empower the social workers to monitor orphanages NGO’s should see to it that children in institutions such as orphanages are not sexually exploited in any way.  Government should sensitise parents and the rights of the child. Parents in Somalia overload girls with a lot of house chores. We the children demand that this should be stopped.

Lastly government and the private sector should provide food, clothing and other necessities to institutions where children are kept. It is the plight of every African child that our recommendations are taken into consideration because we are the future.

Violence in the workplace

In Africa, where each day more and more children are beginning to take a poem, great responsibilities to sustain their lives, the workplace cannot be avoided. However, measures must be taken to avoid the exploitation of children in these areas:

We want a minimum age for children to work to be enforced at 16 years old.
No child should have to fight a war or carry heavy loads and neither should a child have to work long hours without pay or be abused or treated unfairly. Children deserve to be treated as equals in the work place and those who abuse us should be severely punished. Equality and quality in the work place is what the children want.

Violence in the home, family and the community

The home, the family, the community these are the places we find joy and love in.

Being here has not only been a privilege but has left us as the children expectant, as to what is yet to come. Some of our objectives are that when we go back home we will be able to tell our parents about what we have learnt and hope that from here we will build an open relationship with them including the community at large.

Hopefully from here our right will be recognised  and that those kids that are undergoing any form of abuse will be attended to as soon as possible,  And lastly we ask that you look at us not as a stumbling stone but as, as a building block for the future.

For it is true that we as the children do not just belong to the family but to you the community at large.

Children’s opinion

My name is Eder Katende - I am a refugee from DRC and I live in South Africa now. 

All the children who have attended the conference are greatly thankful to the government, to all the ministers and to the members of UNICEF for giving us the opportunity to express ourselves and give our opinion about the violence that we face in schools, the community, the institution and the workplace and also in the family and how this violence affects us.

We discussed everything in our groups and some of the recommendations that we came to were really amazing. We would like you to think about our recommendations intensively. We would to consider refugees in any programs that you make about violence against children.  We do not want violence we just want education to make our continent a better place for life.

On another note we would like to thank Joyce and Pat from NCRC and all the chaperones and facilitators.  We would also like to thank Advocate Thoko Majokweni from the National Prosecuting Authority for her generosity as well as the Government of South Africa for their help.  We thank too the staff of Kopanong hotel as they have treated us in the utmost respect and humanity. The food was okay, although we could have done with a bit more sporting facilities, however we survived. To everyone involved we say keep up the good work and remember peace brings happiness. Thank You.

© UNICEF SA photo by R Hearfield
Children presented ideas for an end to violence against children in their own handmade boxes.

Children’s Presentation for Opening Session of the regional preparatory consultation on 18 July 2005

This is the violence that happens to children

“Case study”: One day during the night, a big man came into our house and placed his hands and chest on me. He had put his big finger into my vagina. His finger was big that I felt a lot of pain. After some time, he started breathing very fast and urinated slippery urine into my vagina. He then said to me: “Do not tell any one and if you do, I will kill you. I did not tell my grandmother but only told my mother. “This is an example of sexual abuse.

Physical abuse: One of the children informed us that the headmaster says that they should be beaten 20 strokes on their backs as a form of punishment when they do something wrong.

Emotional abuse: Some of our parents fight in front of us, causing us a lot of pain and distress.

Neglect: Some of our parents always come home drunk and do not care of our physical, emotional and nutritional needs. Some children are looking after their parents and siblings because their parents are not responsible.

Child soldiers: Children as young as 7 years old are taken to the battlefront.

Hard work: Children crush stones, work as domestic workers and prostitutes. They also work on farms – long hours and get paid very little or nothing at all.

This is what we do to protect and help ourselves

  • Children start support groups/clubs at schools with kids who have been abused and with those who have not been abused.
  • Many children walk in groups with other children or with adults.
  • When we contact the authorities, they don’t always listen.
  • Several children contact childline, but others had problems with such organisations. 
  • Children run away from home because of neglect. It is better to live on the street than to live at home with bad parents.
  • Religious and church groups are also sometimes helpful.

These are our ideas about what can be done to protect children from and help children address violence:

  • Report to child activists or NGOs working with children
  • Governments should provide legal assistance for children and train magistrates and court clerks who are sensitive to children needs
  • Government should introduce stiffer punishment for those who abuse children
  • Government to prevent children from working and provide skills training
  • Parents should be good examples as children learn from them.
  • More institutions to respond to the victims of abuse.
  • More awareness raising about children’s rights – knowledge is power – As one child in Angola said “to guarantee the rights of children is promote peace.” 

Read more:

Child-friendly background information about the study

UNICEF global pressroom: UN  study on violence against children

Press releases: UNICEF South Africa 

Documents: Eastern and Southern Africa Regional preparatory consultation

 

 

 

 

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