AT A GLANCE
- The African Partnership to End Violence against Children (APEVAC) found that rates of physical, sexual and psychological violence has grown, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing humanitarian emergencies.
- New studies find that more than half of all children in Africa experience physical abuse, while in some parts of the continent, four in 10 girls suffer from sexual violence before the age of 15.
- Scroll to the bottom of this article to access the new studies from APEVAC.
New data shows violence against children is rising across the African continent
Startling new evidence shows that violence against children is increasing throughout Africa. From Sierra Leone to South Africa, the African Partnership to End Violence against Children (APEVAC) found that rates of physical, sexual and psychological violence has grown, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing humanitarian emergencies.
“Of all the unspeakable damages suffered by our children, violence is surely the worst, simply because it is entirely avoidable, yet leaves lasting scars,” said Mrs Graça Machel, Chair of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) International Board of Trustees. “We cannot accept such suffering at any level of African society, as its devastating impacts on our children’s dignity, physical and mental wellbeing continue to rob them of their future.”
Watch Dr Joan Nyanyuki on Newzroom Afrika
This data comes from three new studies published by APEVAC, which were released at a Together to #ENDviolence affiliate event on July 22, 2021. The studies find that more than half of all children in Africa experience physical abuse, while in some parts of the continent, four in 10 girls suffer from sexual violence before the age of 15.
In addition, the studies found that:
- In some regions, more than eight out of 10 children aged 1-14 experience violent discipline every month
- Africa has the highest rates of child neglect in the world, with 41.8 per cent of girls and 39.1 per cent of boys being neglected by their caregivers
- Sexual violence against children with disabilities is high in many countries, ranging from two incidents per child in Senegal to four per child in Cameroon
- In Nigeria, 66 per cent of girls and 58 per cent of boys under 18 witness violence in the home
- More than half of all children aged 13-15 in West and Central Africa are bullied in school
“Vigorous action must be taken to tackle the unacceptable scourge of violence against children in Africa,” said Dr Joan Nyanyuki, ACPF’s Executive Director. “Thirty years after the African Children’s Charter was adopted, African governments are still failing to protect children from violence.”
Even so, speakers expressed hope for the future of African’s children, and noted the movement building to demand change for communities across the world.
“Despite this epidemic of violence and abuse, and the disruption caused by COVID-19, I believe we have an unprecedented historical opportunity to end violence against children,” said Dr Howard Taylor, the Executive Director of the End Violence Partnership. “I am optimistic because we know what it takes to end violence against children – and we see growing momentum to take the necessary action – including the powerful examples shared by leaders today.”
Dr Taylor noted that since the Partnership’s inception, 12 African countries have become Pathfinding, the highest number of any region in the world. Dr Nyayuki also noted the proven effectiveness of various “homegrown” initiatives – those created by African experts for African populations. The studies highlight this pattern, and reveal that these initiatives not only reduce levels of violence, but also strengthen relationships between caregivers and their children.
Explore the studies in English and French through the links below. You can also read more from Mrs Machel in related op-ed published by The Guardian, which highlights the studies’ findings and calls for governments, institutions and global leaders to double their efforts to end violence against children in Africa.
Violence against children in Africa
National capacity to address violence against children
Here to stay: home-grown solutions to violence against children
Photo: African Partnership to End Violence against Children