Dar es Salaam. Children constitute the majority of victims of reported and documented incidents of human rights violations in Tanzania (47 per cent), followed by women (33 per cent), the elderly (10 per cent) and Persons with Disabilities (four per cent).
This is according to the latest human rights report by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) launched on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam. The remaining six per cent were other victims, including members of law enforcement agencies.
The report cites police statistics showing that from 2017 to 2021, 70,997 incidents of violence against children were reported at police stations across the country, averaging 14,199 incidents yearly, 1,183 monthly, and 39 incidents each day.
Through its media survey and human rights monitoring, in 2022, the LHRC documented at least 350 incidents against children reported across Tanzania Mainland, with sexual violence taking the bigger share (81 per cent) of the incidents documented.
A quarter (25 per cent) of the victims were under the age of ten years, with boys constituting the majority (78 per cent) of sodomy victims, LHRC found.
An analysis by LHRC found that the main perpetrators of sexual violence against children were a father, stepfather, unknown adult male (resident of the area), uncles, elderly men, close relative/family friend, like a cousin, a child at school, especially for sodomy, health workers, like a doctor, and motorcycle (bodaboda) driver.
“Fourteen fathers, 30 close relatives, ten teachers, and two religious leaders, including a padre and a madrassa teacher, were mentioned as perpetrators of sexual violence against children,” LHRC states.
Children who were victims of violence included 88 (25 per cent) under the age of 10, and 88 (25 per cent) victims of child-on-child sexual violence, with the perpetrator age ranging from 14 to 17 years, and 212 victims of sodomy.
LHRC found that boys constituted the overwhelming majority of victims of sodomy at 166, equivalent to 78 per cent. Most of the sodomy incidents occured in school and home settings.
“We need to intensify the protection of our children,” Fundikila Wazambi, the report’s lead author, said during the launch of the report. “They are not safe anywhere, not at home or worshipping places. Schools also are no longer safe for children.”
Concerning how community members perceived violence against children, LHRC found that just over half of the community members who participated in the human rights survey (51 per cent) considered the phenomenon a serious problem.
Twenty-seven per cent felt it was a problem, and 20 per cent said it was only a moderate problem. However, most interviewed respondents, including social welfare officers, expressed concern over the “alarming” rate of child rape and sodomy incidents, LHRC states.
Sexual violence was the most common form against children among the incidents LHRC reported in 2022, accounting for over 80 per cent.
Through media surveys and human rights monitoring, LHRC documented at least 283 sexual violence incidents directed at children in 2022.
Rape and sodomy were found to be the most common acts of sexual violence against children.
Over 5,000 child rape cases and 1,000 child sodomy cases were reported by the government in the period 2021/22 and in the period of January to September 2022, averaging over 400 rape and 93 sodomy incidents each month.
Sodomy is the most common form of sexual violence against boys in Tanzania, LHRC found, noting that the practice is “gaining momentum” in different settings, including school and home.
From 2016 to 2021, LHRC notes that a total of 5,716 child sodomy cases were reported to police stations across the country, averaging 900 incidents annually, 79 monthly, and at least two each day.
The majority – 87 per cent – of the victims were boys.
In 2021, LHRC documented at least 34 incidents of sexual abuse against boys in the form of sodomy. In 2022, the number of incidents rose to 166, equivalent to 78 per cent of all documented child sodomy incidents.
Regarding physical violence against children, the practice constituted 18 per cent of violence against children documented by LHRC through media surveys and human rights monitoring.
Acts include beating, strangulation, burning hands, being torched, being buried alive, being poisoned, and being attacked with a weapon. Parents constituted the majority of perpetrators of physical violence against children.
“Community members should refrain from protecting perpetrators of violence against children simply because they need to ‘conceal family shame,’” LHRC says.