Protecting Children from Abuse in Swaziland
Across the country, the "Shoulder to cry on" community workers are the first line of defense for many children who are abused by their family members in Swaziland.
(Protecting Children from Abuse in Swaziland)
You’re watching UNICEF Television.
Tjengisile Shabangu: Okay, this is a Mantenga family. They are not even
compatible to spend quality time around because they are
Shanta Blowman: A visit from Shoulder to Cry On Community Workers
allows three orphan sisters an opportunity to leave their
security of their home to clear their overgrowing yard.
The girls inherited the two-bedroom house when their
father died last year. Their mother had died a few years
before. Many people in this rouge community Swaziland in
the Lubombo Province in Swaziland die from aids. This
southern African kingdom has the highest HIV rate in the
world. The girls fear to be caught outside of line by their
40-year old uncle.
Female: The youngest is seven years, it’s present in here because
their uncle came through the window and beat all of them
and told the youngest child who was seven years to undress
because there’s no child that can sleep dressed.
Shanta Blowman: The girls escaped to neighbor’s Zandeli, Mumbali’s house
to get help. Zandeli is one of 11,000 volunteer child
protectors trained by Shoulder to Cry On. Across the
country, they’re the first line of defense for many children.
A 2007 survey conducted by UNICEF and the US Center
for Disease Control revealed alarmingly high levels of
violence against girls in Swaziland, approximately one
third of girls younger than 18 experience sexual abuse and
one in four than physically abused.
In response, the government along with UNICEF, NGOs,
and civil society have taken more serious measure against
abuse and want to create a culture of zero-tolerance.
Qondile Zwane, Senior Crown Council has been
prosecuting individuals who violate children’s rights.
Qondile works in this specifically designed victim-friendly
space built with support from UNICEF. Together with the
police, she tries to gather enough evidence to take cases of
sexually abused children to the High Court.
Qondile Zwane The purpose of this room is to enable the child to be able to
play around and not to really concentrate on what they’re
really saying. So, when you’re interviewing them, you
usually ask them as who -- what was daddy wearing on this
particular day when this happened and if they child cannot
really talk or say whatever happened to them, we usually
give them the dolls to demonstrate to us what happened.
So, this is usually daddy this one here, what did he do to
you? So if for instance you are first assaulted, the child will
show you that daddy hit me first or whatever, and then the
child would show you for instance that this was her maybe
-- if she was not wearing her panty, she’ll tell you, she’ll
take it out and say I was not wearing a panty while I was
Shanta Blowman: Despite Qondile’s passion, success with prosecutions are
long difficult process. As part of the State’s strategy, police
have setup units to tackle abuse in each of Swaziland’s 24
police stations. They’re working closely with community
police and child protection volunteers. Community
involvement is crucial as children often know their abuses.
Protecting children in this patriarchal and tradition-bound
kingdom remains a challenge. Yet these initiatives are
starting to make a difference even in the remote areas.
This is Shanta Blowman reporting for UNICEF Television,
unite the children.
Protecting Children from Abuse in Swaziland
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