Violence against children in Tanzania
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Violence against children in Tanzania

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      The 2009 Tanzania Violence against Children Study (VACS) is the first national survey of violence against children in the United Republic of Tanzania. The 2009 VACS is a nationally representative survey of 3,739 females and males, 13 to 24 years of age, which is based on a three-stage cluster household survey design. This survey was designed to yield separate estimates of experiences of sexual, physical, and emotional violence prior to turning age 18 for females and males in the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. More extensive information on the context and prevalence of sexual violence was collected because Tanzanian stakeholders identified sexual violence as a serious problem; hence sexual violence is the primary focus of the study. There is currently limited information on the prevalence of sexual violence, and the negative health outcomes associated with sexual violence. This report presents the results for the United Republic of Tanzania, with a distinct section on Zanzibar. The specific results for Zanzibar are presented separately as the systems in place to develop a prevention and response plan are distinct from those in Mainland Tanzania.

      The prevalence of sexual, physical, and emotional violence experienced by 13 to 24 year olds, prior to the age of 18, and violence experienced in the past 12 months by 13 to 17 year olds, is described because a primary objective of the survey is to assess the magnitude of all forms of violence against children, defined as people who are younger than 18 years old. In addition to collecting information on the magnitude of violence affecting children, data was also collected in the context in which sexual violence occurs, the perpetrators of sexual, physical, and emotional violence, service seeking behaviors of victims, and the relationship of sexual, physical, and emotional violence with victims current health status.

      The findings from the survey indicate that violence against children is a serious problem in Tanzania: nearly 3 in 10 females and approximately 1 in 7 males in Tanzania have experienced sexual violence prior to the age of 18. In addition, almost three-quarters of both females and males have experienced physical violence prior to 18 by an adult or intimate partner and one-quarter have experienced emotional violence by an adult during childhood (i.e., prior to turning 18) Although the rates of sexual violence are lower for Zanzibar (approximately 6% of females and 9% of males), sexual violence against children is still an issue that requires immediate attention. The results of this survey have significant implications for the design and implementation of Tanzanian specific prevention and response programs to address abuse and violence against children.

      The Tanzania VACS was guided by a Multi-Sectoral Task Force (MSTF) consisting of government ministries and partners from social welfare, the police and legal system, education, health care, and HIV/AIDS sectors, the UN and civil society. The study was coordinated by UNICEF Tanzania with technical guidance and assistance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Violence Prevention, and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).

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