Every child has a right to be protected from violence, abuse, and exploitation.
All children have the right to be protected from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. The consequences of violence range from the immediate impact on their development, such as physical injury, learning ability and school performance to long-term harm that they carry into adult life. Reported cases of violence against children are on the rise.
According to the Violence Against Children study (2018), in Botswana about one in ten females (10.4 per cent) and nearly one in twenty males (4.1 per cent) aged 13-17 years experienced sexual violence. Among children aged 13-17 years who had ever had sexual intercourse, one in four females (25.1 per cent) and one in twenty males (4.6 per cent) experienced unwanted sex at the time of their sexual debut. This age group is most vulnerable to HIV as HIV prevalence of young women 15 to 19 years is three times that of the male counterparts (14.6 per cent and 5 per cent).
Lack of capacity among social workers has been identified as a key challenge as they are primary responders to child protection issues. While the number of child protection incidents continue to rise, they are not always reported to the police.
UNICEF Botswana focuses on strengthening institutions to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children. Combatting violence against children, especially sexual exploitation and abuse, is a key component of programming.
Advocacy efforts involve engagement of communities, traditional and religious leaders, including women, to curtail negative attitudes, harmful cultural practices and traditions that perpetuate sexual exploitation and abuse against children.
Through the Social Service Workforce Strengthening initiative, children and families will be better served by service providers on child protection issues. The initiative will assist Government to create a well-equipped workforce to prevent and respond to violence against children based on the Children’s Act of 2009.
Closely linked to preventing violence against children is providing parents and caregivers to give them skills on positive parenting to increase their awareness of child protection issues. The development of a standard parenting toolkit will support Government in building a cadre of trainers to reach out to the social service workforce in improving existing practices around parenting.
Through the E Seng Mo Ngwaneng national campaign launched by the First Lady, UNICEF together with stakeholders has raised awareness on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of children. Furthermore, UNICEF is advocating for Child Friendly Police Stations with personnel trained to interview children who report sexual abuse.