Ending violence against children in Senegal

The Government of Senegal, with the support of UNICEF and other partners, launched a public awareness campaign to accelerate efforts to ending violence against children in the country

UNICEF Sénégal
UNICEF Senegal
23 March 2022

In Senegal, violence against children is widespread, although not documented consistently. For too many children, the places where they should feel safe — at home, at school, in their communities — are the first and most frequent sites of violence, abuse and exploitation.

No matter their story or circumstance, all children have the right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse.  In Senegal, UNICEF works to protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse. We partner with governments, businesses, civil-society organizations and communities to prevent all forms of violence against children. Alongside communities, we work to accelerate the elimination of harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation. Throughout all we do, we listen to young people and their families to ensure their needs drive our programming and advocacy.

UNICEF Senegal

The Government of Senegal, with the support of UNICEF and other partners, launched a public awareness campaign to accelerate efforts to ending violence against children in the country. Supported by an intensive media drive, the campaign aims to catalyze much-needed policy, social, institutional, community and family dialogue and change towards ending violence against children.  A series of communication materials have been produced and widely disseminated across the country, using different channels and platforms including national and community medias, digital and social networking tools. The campaign also involved a wide range of stakeholders, including religious leaders, national and local authorities, influencers, social mobilizers and actors, families, communities, youth and children themselves.

Find out more about the campaign at: https://violence-nafijog.sn/

This initiative has been made possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of Canada

UNICEF Senegal

Violence against children, in particular sexual violence, continues to be a major challenge in Senegal, with an estimated number of about 15,000 girls aged 15–17 victims of sexual violence. In 2021, the Government undertook positive measures to systematize monitoring and detection of violence through the education and health systems. The early 2022 review of the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women will help identify strategies for increased gender equality, and women’s and girls’ rights in Senegal.

Detecting sexual violence and providing victims with access to services remains a challenge in Senegal. According to the DHS (2019), 10.4% of women aged 15-49 have suffered physical violence in the previous year. Among girls aged 15-17, 2.9% have been victims of sexual violence (DHS 2019). The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the issue of domestic violence, as evidence by the rapid survey on the effects of COVID-19 by UN Women in collaboration with National Agency of Statistics and Demography (ANSD), UNICEF and UN Human Rights (2020), which showed that 27% of respondents believed that violence within households had increased since the start of the pandemic.

Persistent harmful practices

The problem of child marriage affects nearly one in three girls in Senegal. Thus, 32.6% of women between the ages of 20 and 49 were in a first union before the age of 18 and 7.6% before the age of 15 (DHS 2019). Income and education levels are a key factor in this problem, as women in the lowest quintile of economic well-being and those with the lowest level of education are most affected. In addition, a significant number of children reside without their parents, with 13.2% of girls and boys under the age of 15 living with no biological parents (approximately 950,000 children). In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain problems have arisen. For example, the results of the rapid survey on the effects of COVID-19 (2020) indicated that 5% of urban households and 7% of rural households sent their children to beg or work to cope with the economic difficulties they were facing.

Little change has been observed in the case of FGM in Senegal over the past decade. In 2019, 25.2% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 were cut (DHS, 2019), compared to 25.7% in 2010[1]. Behind this national data lies significant regional disparities between the centre of the country (5.5%; Diourbel, Fatick, Kaolack and Kaffrine) and the Southern region (79.6%; Tambacounda, Kolda, Kédougou, Sédhiou and Ziguinchor). According to the latest available data[2], 16.1% of girls under 15 were cut. Opinions about FGM have hardly changed over the last decade and the rate of women between 15 and 49 years old who think that this practice should continue has even increased, from 16.6% to 18%. Recent data shows this proportion is 11.9% among men.

The birth registration rate of children under five has slowly increased over the past 10 years, reaching 78.7%[3] against 74.6% in 2010[4]. This limits children’s access to essential social services. Significant socio-economic (59.7% for the lowest quintile against 96.9% for the highest) and geographical (70.7% in rural areas against 92.7% in urban areas) disparities persist. In terms of coordination, it is important to note the establishment of Civil Status Health Corners in health structures that aim at improving the interoperability between both sectors. The Ministry of National Education has also set up a system for detecting and registering students who do not have a birth certificate.

[1] DHS-MICS 2010-11

[2] DHS 2019

[3] DHS 2019

[4] EDS-MICS 2010-11

UNICEF Senegal