Ministry sets up 24hr desk on gender violence, child abuse

01Jun 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Ministry sets up 24hr desk on gender violence, child abuse

THE Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children has introduced a special desk and toll free number for the public to report cases of gender-based violence and child abuse.

The ministry’s Child Rights and Development Assistant Director Sebastian Kitiku said here yesterday that the desk will open soon and will offer services for 24 hours.

This will enable victims as well as witnesses of gender-based violence and child abuse to report the cases without delay for ministerial authorities to take appropriate measures. He said the toll free number to be used in the new initiative is 116.

This comes after a recent human rights report launched mid last month by the Legal and Human Rights Centre indicated that sexual violence against children almost tripled last year, making it the most violated human right.

Kitiku revealed the initiative in a presentation on the situation of gender-based violence and the national action plan to curb the vice at a training session for 51 community radios staff from across the country.

The introduction of the desk is meant to effectively address issues which are more often left unattended due to challenges in reporting cases and accessing justice at the grassroots.

The move comes amid complaints from community radio practitioners over the failure by some public authorities to cooperate whenever children and women’s rights were violated in various areas.

Anna Elias, a scribe from Sengerema Community Radio said there had been some cases where some teachers impregnated schoolgirls only to be transferred from one school to the other. They committed that offence repeatedly with no legal measures taken against them.

“The ministry should help us to curb the culture of impunity where perpetrators of sexual abuse are left to go scot free even as they ruin the lives of girls,” said Anna.

She faulted the Law of Marriage Act saying some of its provisions gave permission for a girl child of 14-15 years to get married with parental consent contrary to the Law of the Child Act of 2009 where a girl of such age is defined as a child who should be in school.

Maajab Madiva, a journalist from Pangani community radio raised concern over increasing sexual abuse committed between children where more often community members failed to take any measures saying they were minors. He said the ministry needs to provide guidance on what ought to be done.

In a rejoinder, Kitiku said the judicial system has special courts and juvenile delinquency centers where they too can be convicted of such offences to reform them.

UNESCO in close collaboration with Dodoma FM and technical support from the Ministry of Health is conducting the training to enhance knowledge of 51 community radio practitioners in designing effective and interactive programs in Sexuality & Reproductive Health (SRH), HIV and AIDS, Gender based Violence (Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Girls Education).

Specifically, the training focuses on developing the capacity of community radios in addressing sexual behaviors that elevate the risk of HIV infection, early and unintended pregnancy and gender-based violence amongst adolescents and young people through interactive radio programs in line with relevant social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) strategies at the national level.

The capacity-building program has been made possible through funding from Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

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