Botswana: Children Central to Development Agenda

Gaborone — Children with special needs are disadvantaged because some might not have the ability to communicate abuse or even contribute to surveys, says Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Mr Kgotla Autlwetse.

"That leaves such children out of the purviews of planning and programming as they often remain invisible objects whose pity issues are unknown," he said.

Speaking at the launch of Violence Against Children Survey (VACS) report in Gaborone on December 10, Mr Autlwetse said effects of violence were multi-prolonged ranging from physical injuries to mental health issues and risk behaviours hence interventions must represent different dimensions.

The assistant minister called for the strengthening of systems and institutionalization of arrangements.

"In implementing the findings of the study, commitments are aligned as protection from violence is the key to enhancing social and human development through active participation by all citizens and optimization of social functioning," he said.

Mr Autlwetse said children and youth were central to the social development agenda as driven through the Sustainable Development Goals because they comprised a significant proportion of Botswana's population.

"The studies also revealed that this age category also forms the bigger component of victims and perpetrators of violence," he said.

US ambassador to Botswana, Mr Craig Cloud said in addition to being a global social and health problem, violence against children as a major human rights violation.

Mr Cloud said child abuse had three categories, physical, emotional and sexual all of which had significant short and long term health consequences.

"People who have experienced childhood violence are more likely to engage in risky behaviour as adolescents and adults and are more likely to become perpetrators of violence," said Mr Cloud.

Ambassador Cloud said studies had demonstrated high prevalence of human rights crisis worldwide, signifying that the problem transcended cultural and socio-economic boundaries.

He said studies demonstrated high rates of physical, sexual and emotional violence against children in several countries in sub- Saharan Africa, Caribbean and Asia.

"The Botswana VACS is the first national household survey to include HIV testing and there is hope that the results will raise critical attention to the issue of violence against youth and the role it plays in the HIV epidemic," he said.

Meanwhile, UNICEF representative Ms Julianna Lindsey has said having completed the study in 2016, Botswana joined 15 countries that had released findings of such studies.

She noted that data from the survey would help Botswana achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

"SDG 5 includes a target to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls while SDG 16 addresses all kinds of violence in general, within a peace and justice context," said Ms Lindsey.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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