Children are undoubtedly the most vulnerable members of a society. From hunger to violence, they confront numerous challenges to survive. Unfortunately, many are just but unlucky. In their vulnerable state, they look up to others for help. They turn to parents for protection. They run to neighbours for support. And when things are bad at school, they confide in teachers whenever they face abuse. But what happens when these people turn against innocent children? Action needs to be taken and children need safe spaces to report abuse.
Children lose trust for those who molest and violate their fundamental human rights. It is even worse, when the perpetrator is well known to a child. Instead of sharing their troubles with them, they revert to silence. Or, they run out of options and remain stranded in a world that seems insensitive of violence against children.
C-Sema Child Helpline launched
If FGDs data collected by ICS survey during is anything to go by, then children in Kenya and Tanzania need more awareness on forms of child abuse and alternative, trusted and friendly ways of seeking help. It is evident that most children are clueless about forms of abuse they are prone to. More worrying is the fact that they have no idea of the action to take when they are abused. Children know these perpetrators but they do not know where to report and who to trust.January 3, 2013 was a new dawn in Tanzania. Hope was birthed. And there was light at the end of the tunnel for children who are the parents and whole generation of tomorrow. It was not only a step towards ending violence against children but also enhancing skilful parenting. On that day, an agreement between the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (MCDGC) and C-Sema for Operationalization of Child Helpline (CHL) was officially signed. It was historic because Tanzania was to have a first of its kind, National Child Helpline, SAUTI 116. Today, a Child Helpline call center is operational, thanks to ICS for resounding financial and technical support. From feasibility studies to the implementation, C-Sema has received unwavering support from ICS, who believes that ending violence against children is possible.
The impact of the C-Sema Child Helpline has been immense. A case in point, Happy/Sad boxes affixed in schools within Temeke Municipality in Dar es Salaam turned out to be of great help in giving a voice to the voiceless and vulnerable children.With the support from ICS, C-Sema Child helpline project is a source of hope in ending violence against children. In particular, the Temeke District Child Protection team swung into action and dedicated time to address the opinions specifically Violence against Children cases which needed immediate actions.
Addressing sexual harassment
According to the laid down procedure, priority goes to cases of sexual harassment. During this process, the matter is investigated before to ascertain the grounds of the allegations. To deter other members of the society, including teachers from abusing children, disciplinary action may include dismissal of the perpetrator from teaching. The results were also shared with UNICEF and Save the Children among other partners to steer up the responses to address the situation.
Father apprehended after chopping off daughter’s finger
Cases of parents meting violence on their children are common. Victims sustain mild to severe injuries. In worst cases, others succumb to the injuries inflicted by someone familiar. This is sheer violence against children. “Jane (not her real name), an eight year old girl lives with her step-mother. She accidently topples charcoal on the floor. This angers her step-mother who reacts by beating her severely before reporting the matter to her father. Agitated, the father chops Jane’s finger. One of the children decides to take action, and reports the case to the VEO. The father is later apprehended and arraigned in court,”- Jane is a pupil at Bahati Primary school – Temeke Municipality (Dar es Salaam).
C-Sema saves 14-year old boy
C-Sema plays a key role in addressing various forms of violence against children. Through the child helpline, children are rescued and reassured of a safer tomorrow. A case of a 14 year boy trafficked from Mwanza in Tanzania to Uganda affirmed the need to protect children. A call from the Uganda Child Helpline-SAUTI 116, to the National Child Helpline helped save the situation.
According to the boy, who narrowly landed on the streets of Uganda, his perpetrator was known to him as he visited their home in Mabatini area in Mwanza. Because of his desperate state, he was promised a well-paying job once in Uganda. However, his employer to be denied him a job to herd on religious grounds. As he wandered along the streets and wondered how on earth the world had become unfair, he managed to trace the old Kampala Police Station, where he reported his case. After the story was captured by the media, SAUTI 116 picked up the matter, contacted the National Child Helpline. The boy was later traced.
C-Sema gets UNICEF support
Such cases dot many parts of the world. However, with concerted efforts, ending violence against children is possible. Programs like C-Sema Child Helpline are important. Asa result, ICS remains committed towards supporting such courses. The commitment of C-Sema’s team has seen the organization earn the support of UNICEF, which played a vital role in lobbying for the Government’s buy-in to enable a take-off of the CHL.
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