24 August 2017

Swaziland: Campaign to Protect Swazi Children

World Vision Swaziland is preparing to launch a national campaign called 'It takes a world to end violence against children' before the end of 2017.

The Christian organisation's Advocacy and Justice for Children Manager Sakhile Malaza told local media, 'We'll be working with multiple stakeholders, the Government, traditional leaders, celebrities and other influencers to play a role to end violence.'

Malaza said not a week passed by without headlines in Swaziland of missing children, suicides or abuse cases.

The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (24 August 2017) that Malaza said, 'World Vision continues to raise awareness to all stakeholders that include parents, traditional leaders, religious leaders, law enforcers and the children themselves to be safe and ensure that their whereabouts are known at all times.'

Earlier this month, a UNICEF report revealed nearly nine out of ten children in Swaziland suffered violent discipline in the home, nearly four in ten suffered sexual violence and one in three were bullied. UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund) reported that much of this was kept secret within the family.

UNICEF said according to national data, violent discipline in the home, which includes physical punishment and psychological aggression, affected more than 88 percent of all children in Swaziland. The study findings also revealed that sexual violence and bullying affected 38 per cent and 32 percent of children in Swaziland, respectively.

In March 2017, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in Swaziland said nearly a half of all abuse cases reported involved children, And, most abusers were parents or someone well-known to the victim.

A total of 357 cases were reported in the financial year 2016 / 2017.

A report tabled at the Swazi Senate revealed 71 percent of the victims were females.

The most common abuse with 90 cases was described as 'emotional / verbal'. There were also 76 cases of physical abuse and 69 of neglect.

A total of 47 percent of the cases involved children aged up to 11.

The abuse of children in Swaziland is not new. Swazi culture condones sex abuse of children, especially young girls. Child rapists often blame women for their action.

The State of the Swaziland Population report revealed that women who 'sexually starve' their husbands were blamed for the growing sexual abuse of children.

Men who were interviewed during the making of the report said they 'salivate' over children wearing skimpy clothes because their wives refused them sexual intercourse.

'According to the Swaziland Action Group against Abuse (SWAGAA), one in three girls and women between ages 13 and 24 had been a victim of sexual violence. Although rape is legally defined as a crime, many men regarded it as a minor offense.

'The number of reported cases was likely far lower than the actual number of cases, as many cases were dealt with at the family level. A sense of shame and helplessness often inhibited women from reporting such crimes, particularly when incest was involved.

Swaziland

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