Reaching out to partners in the time of COVID-19: Violence Against Children

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While all forms of violence against children are unacceptable, sexual violence against children stands out as a priority concern in the West and Central Africa (WCA) region, given prevailing gender inequalities and harmful social norms which are exacerbated by armed conflicts. The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) indicate that sexual violence prevalence in WCA varies between 4.1 per cent in Côte d’Ivoire (2011–2012) and 27 per cent in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (2013–2014). However, two household surveys looking exclusively at violence against children reveal a much more alarming picture: in Côte d’Ivoire, 20 per cent of women aged 18–24 experienced sexual violence in their childhood (VAC Survey 2018), while the rate was 25 per cent for Nigeria (VAC Survey 2016).

The physical, emotional and psychological impacts of violence can have serious, long-term and intergenerational implications for a child’s development. Violence also perpetuates poverty, illiteracy and early mortality and deprives both communities and whole nations from achieving their development potential. Preventing and responding to violence against children, with a focus on sexual violence, is one of the eight Key Results for Children (KRC) of UNICEF in the WCA region to be attained by 2021.

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