Breaking the Silence: Violence against Children with Disabilities in Africa

Theme:
  • Violence Against Children
Pages: 42
Year of Publication: 2010
Country: Africa

Recent studies have estimated that up to 70% of children with disabilities in the developing world have been victims of violence in some way. This is a shocking figure. Apathy or negligence at the state level in promoting protection undermines the level of support provided to children with disabilities and their families. This includes a lack of financial and medical aid, inadequate and inaccessible state facilities and systems and insufficient community understanding.

A lack of understanding decreases the child’s chances of equal economic and social participation (in itself a form of emotional violence) and allows negative stereotypes to persist, putting the child at continued risk of all types of violence from the community at large. As a result, lacking support mechanism and given the community’s negative reaction to disability, a child’s additional demands place emotional, physical economic and social burdens directly on the family unit. These pressures further increase the risk of physical and emotional violence within the home, creating a destructive perpetual cycle.

Articles in the UNCRC and the ACRWC all assert the comprehensive rights of all children, including freedom from violence. Yet despite these earnest commitments, this report has highlighted the pervasive and omnipresent violence that continues to be inflicted upon children with disabilities. Previous research has estimated that on average, children with disabilities are 1.7 times more likely to suffer abuse than their non-disabled peers. The majority of the respondents indicated that emotional violence was the most prevalent the frequent type of violence committed against children with disabilities. The study found that children with physical, auditory and visual disabilities were more vulnerable to emotional violence – at 35%, 34% and 33% magnitude respectively – followed by children with intellectual disabilities at 26%. The general education of carers and the wider community as a whole, as mentioned above, is necessary to challenge the socially accepted misconceptions that children with disabilities are less productive or less intelligent than their peers – both of which drive the emotional abuse that children face from the community at large.

This report has documented the changing types of violence faced by children with disabilities throughout their childhood, from their heightened vulnerability to physical and emotional violence while young to their greater risk of being subjected to sexual violence as they reach puberty. The study found that boys and girls with disabilities were both vulnerable to all types of violence, and identified a startling trend of sexual violence against boys. It also found that children with disabilities are vulnerable to abuse at the hands of their parents, carers, siblings, extended family members, other children and the wider community, and that there was frequently more than one abuser per episode of violence.

Language: English
Published by: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Author: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Located in: Publications
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