Tanzania study reveals extent of child abuse

A study has revealed that one in three children in Tanzania suffer some form of abuse as they grow up, usually perpetrated by a close relative or neighbour. It is the first survey of its kind in Africa and the findings will be used to strengthen child protection.

Tanzania should be applauded for taking the lead in opening up its record on child abuse to scrutiny, but the results of this first-of-its-kind survey are horrifying.

The child abuse study, carried out by Tanzania’s Muhimbili University and the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that almost three out of 10 girls and one out of seven boys had been victims of sexual violence.

Nearly three-quarters of all children under 18 said they had experienced physical violence at the hand of an adult or a boyfriend
or girlfriend. A quarter had suffered emotional violence perpetrated by an adult during their childhood.

“It is very clear that, by any measure, the Tanzanian figures are quite alarming,” said Andrew Brooks, head of child protection at Unicef in Tanzania which funded the study.

Unicef said it hoped other countries would follow Tanzania’s lead in discovering the scale of a child abuse problem that must be tackled.