17 May 2018

Rwanda: New Survey to Show Prevalence of Violence in Young Population

The ministry of Health will on Thursday officially release findings of a countrywide survey on the violence against children and youth.

The Violence against Children and Youth Survey (VACYS 2015- 16) was led by the Ministry of Health, with technical support from UNICEF and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The research involved a survey of 1,182 boys and young men, and 1,032 girls and young women aged 13-24 randomly selected to be representative of the wider population.

Almost all (97%) respondents had attended school, although only a quarter had had secondary-level education according to the Ministry of Health.

The survey focused on childhood experiences of violence; some information was also gathered on young people's exposure to it. Information on violence before the age of 18 was gathered from all respondents, while information on violence experienced between the ages of 18 and 24 was gathered from around 300 aged 19-24 year olds.

According to Dr Diane Gashumba the Minister for Health , the VACYS 2015- 16 not only fills the gap on data but also paves a strong foundation for a comprehensive National Plan of Action to fight violence against children.

It comes 10 years after the launch of the UN global report on violence against children and is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals through which the world leaders, including Rwanda, set specific commitment to end violence against children by 2030.

"The VACYS 2015-16 provides, for the first time, comparable, national population-based estimates that describe the magnitude and nature of violence experienced by children and youth in Rwanda. This survey also provides information on sexual health risk-taking behaviors as well as children's knowledge about the availability of services to help young victims of violence," Gashumba said.

This survey shows that children and young people in Rwanda are at risk of sexual, physical and emotional violence. The perpetrators are often the very people who are supposed to protect and nurture children in their homes and communities where they should be safe.

Some of the key findings from the research include that half of the young women aged 18-24 who were interviewed about violence during childhood had experienced some form of violence before the age of 18, compared to 65% of males.

These broad figures hide gender disparities - more boys than girls suffer from physical and emotional violence, whereas the opposite is true for sexual violence.

Physical violence against boys is the most common form of violence, followed by physical violence against girls, sexual violence against girls and emotional violence against boys.

37.2% of girls and 59.5% of boys (physical violence); 23.9% of girls and 4.6 % of boys (sexual violence); 11.8 % girls, 17.3% boys (emotional violence)

Forty-two per cent of boys aged 13-17 and 26% of girls in the same age group had experienced physical violence in the past year prior to the survey. In most cases, both boys and girls had experienced multiple incidents.

Thirteen per cent of young women and 23% of young males who had experienced physical violence in childhood had missed one or more days of school as a result.

Around 19% of young men and 7% of young women said that physical violence during childhood had caused injuries.

Girls are more likely to experience sexual violence than boys, with two out of every 10 young women having been exposed to sexual violence before the age of 18, compared to one in 10 young men according to the survey.

Twelve per cent of girls aged 13-17 and 5% of boys in the same age group reported exposure to sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. Most of those who had been sexually abused as children had experienced at least two such incidents.

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