The United Nations has encouraged Tanzania to urgently address the problem of violence against children in the wake of a new Government-led survey in which almost three quarters of girls and boys said they had experienced physical violence before the age of 18 at the hands of an adult or an intimate partner.
In addition, nearly three out of every 10 girls and one out of every seven boys in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar reported that they had experienced sexual violence, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a news release.
The 2009 Tanzania Violence Against Children Survey also found that 25 per cent of those surveyed had been subjected to emotional violence by an adult during childhood.
“'Having had the courage to find out the scale and scope of violence against children in the country, the Government now has the challenge of planning and delivering a proportionate response,” said Andrew Brooks, UNICEF Chief of Child Protection in Tanzania.
At the launch of the survey yesterday in Dar es Salaam, senior Tanzanian officials stated their commitment to act on the findings and ensure that the issue of violence against children is placed high on the agenda of the police, justice, education, health, HIV and AIDS, local government authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community development.
“I am so pleased that Tanzania is taking the initiative of confronting this painful problem,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, a national of Tanzania, said at the launch. Noting that half of the country’s population of about 40 million is under the age of 18, she stressed that children are “our greatest national treasure.”
The survey, which was funded by UNICEF and carried out by Muhimbili University for Health and Allied Science in collaboration with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was commissioned in response to the 2006 World Report on Violence against Children that was produced by the UN Secretary-General.
That report called on countries to examine the scale of the problem. Swaziland is the only other country to have carried out a similar survey but it did not include interviews with boys and focused only on sexual violence.
“With the support of all sectors and all members of society, including the media, faith-based organizations and civil society, there is a very real opportunity for Tanzania to reduce sexual, physical and emotional violence against children,” said UNICEF Tanzania Representative Dorothy Rozga.