Unicef launches regional campaign against child abuse

The campaign is aimed at raising awareness around child abuse across Eastern and Southern Africa.

File picture: An adult and child reach for each other through glass. Picture: sxc.hu.

JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations International Children's Fund has raised renewed concern over what it's described as harrowing reports of child abuse across the Eastern and Southern African regions.

The entity has launched a regional campaign with local and international organisations, including Sonke Gender Justice and Childline South Africa to raise awareness around the impact of child abuse.

New statistics have revealed that one in two reported sexual abuse cases in South Africa are against children under the age of 15, with as many as 84 percent of child rapes being perpetuated by relatives or acquaintances.

Patrick Godana from Sonke says a key primary prevention is to bring perpetrators to book.

Referring to the rape case of a 14-year-old girl in the Eastern Cape, Godana says community members can help place pressure on law enforcement agencies like the National Prosecuting Authority.

"Some of these cases take five to six years. We worked with the community to place pressure on police and other state agencies and the case was concluded in less than nine months."

Despite working with police and overseeing related cases, Childline's Dumisile Nala says they have faced challenges with children waiting long periods before appearing in court.

"We are challenged with children having to wait long periods before they give evidence in court that also on its own has an impact in terms of the outcome of a court case."

Watch: Action on Violence Against Children

There has also been particular focus on issues of corporal punishment and child marriage.

The organisations say they are working with faith based organisations to change the possible influence of cultural practices in perpetuating any form of child abuse.

Godana says they have spoken to traditional leaders to intensify their call against child abuse.

"We have won the hearts and minds, particularly the king of AmaXhosa, King Mpendulo 'Zwelonke' Sigcawu who has committed himself to championing the rights of children, because he has been seeing the plight of children at the hand of adults - that is unbearable."

Watch: Yvonne Chaka Chaka speaks against child abuse