Violence against children
Violence against children has a profound impact on emotional, behavioural and physical health and social development throughout life.
In 2011, the results of a national survey on violence against children in Tanzania were released along with a comprehensive set of commitments to action by key government ministries and partners.
Sexual violence: The National Survey on Violence against Children, revealed that almost a third of females aged 13 to 24 experience at least one incident of sexual violence before the age of 18.
The most common form of sexual violence experienced was unwanted sexual touching followed by attempted unwanted sexual intercourse. Among males in the same age group, more than 13 percent stated that they had experienced at least one incident of sexual abuse prior to the age of 18. Few of those who experienced sexual violence received any service.
Victims of sexual violence are often reluctant to let others know about their experiences due to confusion, feelings of guilt, shame, fear of not being believed, or even being reprimanded for what has occurred. The structures and systems to protect children are either weak, under resourced or non-existent.
Physical violence: The same survey showed that 72 percent of girls and 71 percent of boys experience being punched, whipped, kicked, or threatened with a weapon like a gun or knife by a relative, authority figure (such as teachers), or an intimate partner over their childhood. About 60 percent of children named fathers and mothers as the most common perpetrators of physical violence.
About 78 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys who reported abuse by teachers were punched, kicked, or whipped more than five times- going well beyond that sanctioned as corporal punishment.
Corporal punishment is still a common practice in Tanzania, is perceived as a legitimate form of correction of behaviour in homes and schools, and is even sanctioned as a legal punishment.
UNICEF in action
National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Response to Violence against Children (2011-2015)
UNICEF is working closely with Tanzania’s Multi- Sector Task Force on Violence against Children, led by the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children. The Task Force is responsible for guiding the Violence against Children survey and overseeing the development and implementation of a National Plan of Action to Prevent and Respond to Violence against Children, involving the police, justice system, health and social welfare services, HIV/AIDS sector, education and civil society.
This multi-sector plan reflects work that is ongoing to strengthen child protection systems and seeks to support and expand upon existing national efforts to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation against children.
During the launch of the Violence Against Children survey in 2001, key ministries and partners made vital commitments that can go a long way to improving child protection. (Link to VAC Commitment publication)
Building a model for a child protection system in Tanzania
UNICEF’s Child Protection programme includes strengthening national and community capacity to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation and mobilizing the considerable resources needed to put this into effect.
Specifically, UNICEF is supporting the practical application of a child protection system in four districts, engaging all relevant sectors of local government and civil society. In these districts, the health, social welfare, police, education and justice sectors and informal community structures are working together to ensure cases of child abuse are dealt with swiftly and appropriately.
The knowledge and evidence of these pilot districts will help to inform the development of a national child protection system linked to, and reinforced by the Law of the Child Act, that provides a comprehensive range of prevention and response services to address child protection issues, such as those evidenced by the National VAC survey.
Strengthening referral pathways and services, including support for the establishment of a Child Helpline, is a core element in the strategy. A Communication Strategy is also being implemented that aims to encourage children to recognize and report violence and abuse and to promote appropriate responses to violence and abuse by adults, engaging a wide range of mass media and inter-personal communication channels.
National Costed Plan of Action for Most Vulnerable Children (NCPA MVC 2011-2015)
UNICEF is supporting the Department of Social Welfare in the development of the next National Costed Plan of Action (NCPA) (2011–2015) to ensure the Most Vulnerable Children (MVC) program addresses and mainstreams children’s vulnerability to abuse, violence exploitation and neglect alongside providing economically vulnerable families with support.
The Violence against Children survey provides compelling evidence regarding why the focus of the National Costed Plan of Action must reflect priorities for child protection. The government’s obligations to child protection under the Law of the Child Act also need to be reflected in the revised NCPA. This framework provides an excellent opportunity to use existing partnerships and structures on the ground to scale up child protection responses.