A national campaign in Zimbabwe against child abuse

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

STAND UP & SPEAK OUT Against Child Abuse – A national campaign

The number of reported cases of children being raped in Zimbabwe has increased by more than 40 per cent in the last three years, according to official police statistics.

Responding to the shocking data, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, the National Faith Based Council of Zimbabwe, and UNICEF today launched its ‘Stand Up and Speak Out’ campaign against child abuse. The information Campaign is aimed at raising awareness of all forms of child abuse, the damage caused, how child abuse can be prevented, and importantly where to get help. The Campaign seeks to reach more than six million Zimbabweans.

“The Stand Up and Speak Out information campaign will confront all types of abuse of children – sexual, physical, neglect and verbal,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Festo Kavishe. “If perpetrators are going to be stopped and if children are going to have the confidence to speak out against these evils, then families, communities and schools must concentrate on the value of children, and how they deserve our love and respect.”

The Stand Up & Speak Out Campaign includes:

  • National engagement with the Church in Zimbabwe, through trainings and the production of materials for sermons, Sunday School, church groups and bible studies
  • Iconic Zimbabwean Gospel singer Shingisai has written a campaign song. The song will be aired on national radio and, hopes Shingisai, sung in Churches across Zimbabwe. Shingisai is also the Stand Up & Speak Out Campaign Ambassador
  • A series of short animated cartoons on the various forms of abuse screened nightly on ZTV, just before the 8pm news
  • Billboards have been erected around the country (with the phone number 961 so children can call Childline free)
  • Frequent and informative radio spots national radio
  • National distribution of a ground breaking children’s book on how to prevent sexual abuse

“This is a vital and well-timed campaign, and one we hope all communities will rally behind,” said the Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare, Lancaster Museka. “Zimbabwe has strong and appropriate laws in place condemning the abuse of children. It is now up to ordinary citizens to be vigilant in their community’s protection of children.”

The Stand Up and Speak Out Information Campaign seeks to reinforce the priceless value of all children, their right to care and support, and the fact that childhood must be defended at all costs. In her song for national airplay, Shingisai sings: “God gave us children, what trust he had in us. What greater contempt, than to harm, neglect, or abuse.”

Official police figures show that there were 2192 reported “rape cases involving children 16years and below” in 2003. In 2006 this surged to 3112, an increase of 42 percent.

Innocent Chingwaru of the National Faith Based Council of Zimbabwe, said: “Child abuse is an utterly intolerable violation of children's rights. It is our first duty as adults, parents and good citizens to do everything in our power to protect our children.”

Echoing these sentiments UNICEF’s Dr Kavishe said: “Experts agree that violence is a learned behavior -- it can be taught, reinforced and modeled to children by parents, family members, peers and other role models. It’s clear we need to raise the level of information and discussion in the country around child abuse.

“Too often fears of reprisal and families’ willingness to reach settlements deepen a culture of silence and enable the problem to fester undetected and unreported. Silence on this issue shelters the perpetrators and is a crime against children.

“If we continue to work with each of you, we can take responsibility for ourselves and our families, and we get the abuse rate going down – village by village, neighborhood by neighborhood, and city by city, all across Zimbabwe.”

The Campaign will run across Zimbabwe, beginning today 27 February 2008. 


The Stand Up and Speak Out Information Campaign is another activity within the work being done by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice, the United National and partners.

In addition to awareness raising, the United Nations supported the Ministry Of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development in lobbying for the historical enactment of Zimbabwe’s Domestic Violence Act. In addition, in 2007 training was held to ensures more than 300 Chiefs and Headmen were reached with information on how they can apply and interpret the Act, offer support to victims in their communities and stop abuse.

UNICEF has partnered with Church groups across the country to ensure the work they already do around Child Abuse is aided by new materials and messages.

The Stand Up and Speak Out campaign’s TV animated series will explore the four different types of child abuse, with another cartoon providing information on where those affected can go for help. The appealing, animated images make these difficult issues digestible for the whole family. They will run nightly on ZBC, during primetime before the 8pm news.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Source: Unicef