INTRODUCTION-702 CHILD ABUSE IN AFRICA
Child abuse is quite common in Africa. It is happening at home, at school, or – in the case of child labourers – in the workplace. In addition, children who live in child care institutions are often victims of abuse. With this programme we focus on the forms of child abuse that have the most serious consequences: sexual abuse and violence. This includes child abuse based on traditional and cultural grounds, such as child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Poverty is a major cause of child abuse and violence against children in Africa, besides restrictive gender roles and the lack of educational opportunities. The prevailing discrimination against girls and women in the region and cultural traditions also play an important role. This leads to girls specifically being subjected to FGM and child marriage, where very young girls are forced to marry much older men. In many countries in East Africa perpetrators rarely face repercussions. This is due to gaps in legislature, as well as the lack of technical and staff capacity within governments, coupled with limited budgets to enact existing legislation.
Girls often drop out of school as a result of child marriage and teenage pregnancies. Moreover, young girls are at greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, since they are physically not ready for early childbearing. They also run a high risk of getting infected with HIV. Furthermore, many girls are left with depression and posttraumatic stress caused by child marriage and FGM.
To eliminate child abuse in Africa; starting with Kenya focus on both girls and boys between 12 and 18 years old. Mostly are victims of sexual abuse and violence. In the programme, our approach is to cooperate with local communities, the governments of both countries and with law enforcement agencies, such as police and public prosecutors.
AAHRED programme to be able to:
- Removing children from situations of abuse and violence. And help them with temporary shelter, medical and psychosocial care and legal assistance.
- Strengthening the formal and informal child protection systems within communities.
- Advocating governments for the application and observance of child-friendly procedures. Together with the authorities we develop better systems for identifying and treating victims.
- Teaming up with for example companies, so that they can fight sexual violence and abuse.
- Training of police and judiciary to help them improving the application of applicable laws. We also train them in child friendly procedures when dealing with victims, for example during interrogations.
- Preventing the unnecessary institutionalization of children in child care institutions. We promote the provision of alternative care, such as placing children with relatives or in foster families.
AAHRED Root Causes Expansion
We can help children who are victims of sexual abuse and violence, but if we do not address the root causes of child abuse our efforts will not be sustainable. That is why we lobby for the elimination of child marriage, FGM, sexual violence and teenage pregnancies. To this end, we involve community leaders in our work since they are the custodians of these cultural traditions; if they change their attitudes and behaviours, then other community members will follow. At the same time, we work on improving the resilience of girls. We empower them with life skills and support them to go (back) to school.