19 April 2013: Tanzanian Government launches a Three Year Multi Sector National Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children
By Georgina Mtenga and Kathryn Leslie
Dodoma, Tanzania, 19 April 2013 - A three year National Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children was launched by the Government in Dodoma, the capital city and home to the National Parliament of Tanzania on Friday 12th April. The event, witnessed by members of Parliament, Ministers and other Government Officials, Development Partners and representatives from CSOs and FBOs, marked the launch of a long term plan to address the prevalence levels of abuse and violence against children that were exposed in the National Violence Against Children Survey, released in August 2011.
The three year Multi Sector Plan builds on the One Year "From Commitments to Action" which programmatically ends in July 2013. The One Year Plan was launched in June 2012 by the Deputy Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, to spearhead action to address the findings of the Survey.
During the event, the Guest of Honour, Member of Parliament Honourable Said Mtanda, applauded the Government and partners for conducting the Survey, but more importantly, for taking programmatic action to address the findings through the one year and now three year Plan. He said the Parliament has played a crucial role in creating a protective environment for Tanzanian children through enacting the Law of the Child Act in 2009 and now endorsing this Plan. He urged stakeholders to bring forward any gaps in the Law of the Child which need to be amended to ensure children's full right to protection.
Representatives from key sectors - Health and Social Welfare, Education, the Police/ Home Affairs, Local Government, Community Development and the Commission for HIV/AIDs highlighted key interventions in their respective sectors outlined in the long term plan to protect children.
Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Honourable Peraira Silima, presented the Police Force plan to ensure all Police Officers are responsive to cases of violence against children. Efforts are underway to establish Gender and Children Desks across all police posts in Tanzania mainland. Police have also enhanced the mechanism for conducting investigations and collection of forensic evidence to bring perpetrators to justice.
The Representative from the Ministry of Education spoke about the review of the national Teacher's Code of Conduct, which will ensure high ethical standards in teaching and interacting with pupils. The Education sector is also engaging stakeholders to solicit views on alternative forms of discipline in the Government's plan to abolish corporal punishment in schools which is sanctioned in the Education Corporal Punishment Act of 1979.
The Deputy Minister for Health, Dr. Sefu Rashid, spoke about the health sector component of the three year plan in responding to gender based violence and violence against children. Training of health care professionals in handling violence and abuse cases is currently taking place, including the provision of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to victims of abuse. The Health Sector is expanding its primary health care to include prevention of violence against children. He also spoke about the expansion of districts with functioning child protection systems from the current 6 to 25 by 2015.
Integration of the Plan into sector wide programmes was emphasized across all the key Ministries, especially at community level through the support of the Local Government Authority.
The Representative from the Tanzanian Commission for HIV and AIDS highlighted that the survey findings have clearly shown the link between the problem of sexual violence and HIV/AIDs in the country, which has now led to the review of the National AIDs Strategic Plan.
The UNICEF Representative to Tanzania, Dr. Jama Gulaid, applauded the Government and partners in building the national child protection system, noting that the 3 year Plan ‘is a remarkable achievement for any country, and an inspiration to countries facing similar challenges.’
He said the "collaboration and continued leadership by the Multi Sector Task Force is a strong indicator of national willingness to implement the three year Plan and enforce the Law of the Child Act with commitment proportional to the scale of the problem".
The Minister for Community Development Gender and Children, Honourable Sophia Simba (MP), stated that the "success of the One Year Plan has led to the development of this long term Plan which is in proportion to the magnitude of the problem ensuring that preventive and responsive mechanisms are sustainable."
The event was also attended by a Representative from the Inter-Religious Council of Peace Tanzania (IRCPT) which has joined the Government in addressing the problem of violence against children in religious denominations. The FBOs have developed one inter-faith plan under the coordination of the Inter-Religious Council for Peace. Civil Society, through the Tanzania Child Rights Forum (TCRF), are also partners in the implementation of the Plan and are mobilizing communities through raising awareness and promoting reporting of violence and abuse.
The National Plan of Action to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children 2013-2016 is expected to be funded through National Budget Resources, with the support of Development Partners. The Plan expresses not only what each of the sectors can, and will do, but recognizes the importance of working together to stop violence against children.