National vision spotlights violence against children



MASERU – Children in the country are acutely vulnerable to different forms of violence in their homes, schools and communities. Although it is underreported at all levels, violence against children in the country appears to be increasing with child abuse, exploitation, and neglect representing key immediate causes of protection failures in Lesotho. Violence against children is described as a violation of the child’s right to protection and its impacts can range from immediate pain and suffering to long-term damage to the child’s development and health.

The experience of sexual, physical, or emotional violence in childhood has been associated with mental distress and suicidal ideation among young adults, as well as with violence perpetration. This was revealed by the Lesotho National Prevention and Response Plan on Violence Against Children (VAC) disseminated on Wednesday this week. The vision of the National Prevention and Response Plan is to foster a Basotho society where all children live free from any form of violence. Its goal is to reduce childhood violence by 75 percent in Lesotho by 2028, thereby protecting children from all forms of violence and ensuring that those who experience violence have improved access to effective care and support.

A recent study commissioned by the Government of Lesotho, the Violence Against Children and Youth Survey 2018 (VACS) provides the first nationally representative data on the prevalence of sexual, physical, and emotional violence among children and youth in the country.

The Government of Lesotho, in collaboration with UNICEF, and with the support of development partners, CSOs and local communities, has undertaken the development of a National Prevention and Response Plan on Violence Against Children (VAC).

The National Prevention and Response Plan will be led and implemented by the government with the support from development partners, CSOs and communities, including children and young people.

The minister of gender, youth, sports, arts, culture and social development Pitso Lesaoana, said Lesotho has made regional commitments to end violence against children with the ratification of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Childin 1999.

This Charter, he said, recognizes all the rights in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and notes specific rights of African children considering their distinct context, experience, and cultural heritage.

“This includes explicit reference, in Article 21 of the Charter, to harmful traditional practices which have posed a historic challenge in the region, including early marriage which is a challenge not only in our region but in Lesotho, and poses clear challenges to the rights of children and young people,” he said.

He added Lesotho introduced, Child and Gender Protection Unit within Lesotho Mounted Police Service, additional five child friendly courts, child helpline, child grants, disability grants, youth volunteer corps to mention a few.

These he said were achieved in collaboration with the development partners and CSOs present.

Deputy prime minister, former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara noted that the findings of the survey revealed that 15 percent of interviewed females experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 compared to five percent of males.

Furthermore, it was discovered that 57 percent of interviewed males experienced physical violence compared to 33 percent of females.

She said the findings of the survey proved that children and youth in Lesotho experience unacceptably high rates of sexual and physical of violence in their homes, schools and communities, further indicating that 41 percent of interviewed females told someone, 12 percent sought services and only nine percent received services. 

“This is a clear indication of a dire need to provide robust interventions,” she said.

The National Prevention and Response Plan was informed by the findings of the 2018 VACS, as well as the global strategies. Drawing on examples of good practice in a range of other settings in Africa, and elsewhere, the plan adopted a socio-ecological model in order to identify the overarching strategic actions required in order to effectively prevent, mitigate, reduce, and respond to violence against children.

Perpetrators of violence against children are said to be mostly close to their victims, that is, family members, neighbours, classmates and teachers, therefore the strategic areas of interventions on this plan were developed based on the Systems Theory and will focus on key laws and policies, family support, education, promotion of positive cultural practices, provision of child-friendly services and coordination for comprehensive and collective interventions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *