The Principal Secretary of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Esmie Kainja has said that training of officers in strategies to combat violence against children is crucial. She made the remarks during the opening of the Trainer of Trainers (TOT) workshop on INSPIRE Strategies at Lilongwe Hotel.
In her remarks she explained that the training has come at an opportune time as Malawi is grappling with the problem of violence against women and children.
“Children in Malawi experience multiple forms of violence which are physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, child marriage, child trafficking, and child labour among others. According to a 2013 Violence Against Children Study it is indicated that: 2 in 3 Malawians experience violence in childhood; 1 in 5 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18 and; 2 in 3 boys suffer physical violence before the age of 18.” Said Kainja.
She further explained that children face violence in places where they are meant to find refuge such as homes, schools and within the communities and the fact that the most frequent perpetrators of violence against girls are classmates, romantic partners and close relatives such as uncles and even step fathers is so depressing.
Kainja said Malawi has made a significant progress in addressing violence through the amendment of the Constitution on the age of a child and age of marriage to ensure that all children are well protected. The passing of child and gender related laws such as the Child Care Protection and Justice Act 2010, Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 2006, Marriage Divorce and Family Relation Act of 2015, Gender Equality Act of 2013 and Trafficking in Persons Act of 2015.
In his remarks UNICEF Representative Johannes Wedenig stated that there is need to develop and review corresponding policies and National plan of actions that translate the provisions of the laws into practice.
He said added that the launch of awareness campaigns to sensitize the public on a number of issues including the end of child marriage, the engagement of communities, chiefs, and religious leaders as key stakeholders in the fight against violence is important. He also said that the establishment of the National Helpline that helps children to report all forms of violence is a crucial step taken in Malawi to eliminate violence against children.
In her remarks Doris Roos of African Partnership explained that there are individual and family related factors, socio-cultural factors and environmental factors affecting children. She then said that there is significant progress that has been made to end violence against children. She further mentioned the legal reform efforts that countries are undertaking are helping to reduce violence against children as some of the successes made in the world, particularly in Africa.