CRIMINAL acts involving cruelty against children are on the increase in Tanzania, just as the country joins the continent in observing the 42nd annual 'International Day of the African Child,' today.
In response to that, the government has established 'One-Stop Centre' across the nation, backed by gender desks at local police stations, that deal specifically with such cases, including providing psychological advice, medical treatment and refuge to children who are victims of domestic violence and other forms of cruelty in the society.
Addressing members of the press in Arusha, Deputy Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, pointed out that between January and December 2017, therewere over 41,000 domestic violence cases reported in the country with 13,500 of them being cruelty and molestation against children.
"We have managed to establish 500 such gender and children desks in the country, manned by specially trained police officers, medical personnel and other child and gender health experts to deal with such cases and so far, the response is good," said Dr Ndugulile.
The Deputy Minister was speaking during a special one-day sensitisation workshop for journalists, organised by 'Plan International' for media practitioners in the country, to empower the local scribes in investigating, covering and reporting issues of gender and children.
The UN Child Right Act defines any person under the age of 18 to be a child, which means Tanzania has at least 25 million persons (50 per cent of its population) falling under this bracket. The training has also involved community workers and members of the Police Force.
Dr Simwanza Katanta, the Head of Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health from Plan International, said the community was still harsh against children and women and that, unless the media acts to bring such matters to the light, many will continue to suffer in silence.
"The sessions cover the UN child rights, children protection, gender equality and how to cover and report the issues," said Dr Katanta. The Director of Children Department of the Ministry of Health, Ms Margaret Msai reminded that the toll-free child help hotline number is 116.
She also explained that Tanzania has decided to observe the 'African Child Day,' on the 13th of June 2018 instead of the usual June 16, because the date falls onto the Moslem's Eid-el-Fitr Holiday which comes up this week.