The United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General on Violence against Children (VAC) Ms. Marta Santos Pais has asked Malawi to prioritize all forms of violence against children should be a priority for all in Malawi to combat negative consequences which violence has on children’s wellbeing and social progress.
Santos Pais said this on Thursday at the end of her five day visit to Malawi which started on Sunday during which she where she interacted with several stakeholders, visited some displaced families in Chikwawa District and launched the VAC study—commissioned by the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare to measure the prevalence of violence against children in the country.
The study is Malawi’s first nationally representative examination of the problem of violence against children and looks at the experiences of sexual, physical and emotional violence.
“Preventing and protecting children from violence should be a priority for all of us. If we don’t prevent violence against children, we will be undermining progress being made in all sectors where we are investing. Two thirds of children experience violence in Malawi.
“This is huge and needs to be brought to an end. The battle to end violence against children can only be successful if it becomes everybody’s business,” said Santos Paris.
The VAC study report also indicates that 1 in every 5 girls are sexually abused before they celebrate their 18th birthday, and nearly 2 out of every 3 boys suffer physical violence before the age of 18.
The study also established that violence against children has become a social norm in most communities in Malawi.
Santos Pais commended the Government of Malawi for conducting the VAC study with support from the UN System and funding from UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), saying the survey has assisted to break the invisibility of violence against girls and boys.
This coupled with the 2014 national survey on gender-based violence provides a comprehensive picture of the situation in the country and ask for clear and targeted interventions across all stakeholders.
She urged for quick and concerted action to implement the Priority Responses which were launched alongside the study results in order to eliminate all forms of violence against children and, she particularly called on chiefs and families to play an active role in ending the vice.