Time for African shielders to protect vulnerable from abuse

Posted on September 7, 2014 11:37 am

Historically, the liberal media in Africa rarely report anything positive about Africa.That has recently changed partly because mainstream media has been neutralised by social media that act as source of information. Africans reading newspaper in western world or watching news about what’s happening back in their countries has for decades been distressing experience to say the least. Hardly a month would pass by without reports about severe cases of military coup, civil war, corruption, political violence and murders, physical and sexual violence against women and children. Having both African and Western World experiences, I know that violence against children, be it physical or emotional violence or even sexual abuse, happens everywhere, in every country and at all levels of society.

In Africa, as Martin Meredith noted,Violence and abuse most often occur in the shadows. These fundamental violations of children’s rights largely go undetected, unreported and in many cases they are even socially and culturally accepted in African societies. Most victims know the perpetrators and these crimes are often committed in places where children should feel safest like their homes, schools or communities.Barbara Kingsolver noted in her book a need to address the taboo of talking about violence and abuse against African children and make their safety a priority. Better prevention and more targeted responses and further strengthening of existing child protection systems is needed, as seen in developed countries.Victims of violence and abuse need the best possible medical, psychosocial and legal support.Form teachers, social workers, legal practitioners and health personnel play a key role in this regard.

More clear commitments across various government agencies to prevent and respond to violence in all its forms is important.Violence against children is unacceptable and can and must be prevented and all Africans have a role to play. This includes parents, extended families and community members, teachers, religious and community leaders and the media. First of all, we need to know what the real dimension of violence against children is not an African problem.French author Ingrid Betancourt shared her experiences in the jungles of Latin America.Overall the prevalence is increasing across the world.Pessimists attributes this to the facts that more children and their families are encouraged to speak up and talk about their experience.There is comprehensive data yet available about violence against children in African countries and that means it is difficult to compare trends there with Western countries.Apart from violence and abuse, African children may not have land available for them by the time they attain adulthood because of foreign land grab.Contador Harrison is calling on every African to speak up on behalf of our children. Just because I can’t always see violence, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Contador Harrison