In Malawi, violence against children is widespread.* One in 5 girls are sexually abused before they turn 18 and nearly 2 out of every 3 boys suffer physical abuse during their childhood.
Violence against children happens in all settings: in the home, at school or in the community. Our extensive experience of working in Malawi and our partnership with child protection officers and local police has shown us that cultural norms and traditional practices contribute to this high figure of child abuse.
One police officer told us that she believes “some people are not aware they are committing offences.”
Every child has the right to be protected from violence. The Sustainable Development Goals have set ambitious targets to be achieved by 2030, in order to deliver a vision of a world where every child grows up free from violence.
We are fighting against any harmful practices that can violate our rights
To support this vision and strengthen child protection systems in Malawi, we have supported the creation of child protection committees in Mzuzu District, to help sensitise communities and alter perceptions on violence against children.
These committees are a collaboration of a range of people – civil servants, police, child protection officers, teachers and parents. They are brought together to discuss children’s rights and child protection, and are tasked with educating fellow community members.
Reducing Violence against Children
Plan International’s approach is to empower communities to take charge of issues which negatively affect them. Child protection committees organise and conduct community awareness through mother’s groups and youth clubs in schools.
Community members are advised on how to report a case of violence against children to the police, and the actions to take to ensure the continued support of a child who has experienced violence or abuse.
The district child protection committees also monitor the action that has been taken, to ensure that a reported case has been followed through.
One girl, a member of a youth club who has received awareness training, said that “we are fighting against child marriage, and any harmful practices that can violate our rights.”
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