Africa still faces numerous challenges in the field of child protection. The continent has some of the highest rates of violence against children in the world. For instance:
- Every second, a child reaches out to child helpline services to report abuse and violence
- Over 60 per cent of children experience physical punishment from family members and caregivers in many countries in Africa
- One in four African children experiences sexual violence
- Each year, three million girls are at risk of genital mutilation and cutting in Africa. This harmful practice is almost universal in some countries.
- 15 million girls are married every year. 40 per cent of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are married before their 18th birthday
- Four out of ten boys in residential care institutions suffer physical violence, while two in ten experience some type of sexual violence
- Violent and other cruel and degrading punishment of children has been documented in care settings and in penal institutions in many countries
- Child trafficking is increasing: Sub-Saharan Africa reports the highest share of child trafficking in the world, and girls and boys are more or less equally detected.
To overcome these challenges, most African countries have put in place better legislative, policy and programmatic frameworks to protect children. Today, there is greater awareness of the need to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children and greater political commitment to child protection than ever before. At the continental level, the fundamental right of children to be free of violence is recognised by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and through AU’s numerous policy frameworks, such as the Revised Call for Accelerated Action for Africa Fit for Children, African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the African Agenda for Children’s Rights 2040. The Regional Economic Communities have either developed a sub-regional plan of action to combat violence against children or have given prominence to the issue within their respective children’s policies.
At the national level, the language of children’s protection from violence is common place in constitutional clauses – violence, torture, cruelty and mistreatment are prohibited in almost all African Constitutions and children are protected under general human rights provisions. The introduction of legislation to protect children from all forms of violence is also gaining momentum in Africa. Some states have comprehensive legal instruments that offer a broad prohibition, while others have legislations on specific forms of violence.
Many African Governments are increasingly recognising the importance of setting the evidence base and conducting national surveys as well as developing routine administrative data collection systems to better measure and track the scope and scale of violence against children.
This page aims to gather all the resources produced by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and other continental and international organisations working to end violence against children. It hopes to make a substantive contribution to the evidence base and understanding of the nature, breadth and scope of violence against children in Africa. It further aims to inform and accelerate pan-African, regional and national efforts to prevent and respond to violence against children.