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SWAZILAND: Compelling communities to end child abuse

New statistics revealing the alarming number of female children that are victims of abuse is seeing child welfare and anti-abuse groups turning to Swazi tradition in the hope of reviving a sense of community responsibility towards the wellbeing of Swaziland's children.

MBABANE, 10 June 2008 (IRIN) - The findings from a demographic survey on violence against women and children, conducted by the government's Central Statistics Office, found that two-thirds of 13-24 year-old females reported feeling depressed, and 18 percent said they had contemplated taking their own lives, while four percent had attempted suicide.

More than half of teenage girls, aged 13-17-years-old, reported depression, and 10 percent of the age group had thought of suicide as an option to their problems. The high rates of depression were attributed to the extreme levels of domestic abuse and violence experienced by them.

"Why are our girls so troubled? The evidence shows they feel powerless, helpless in the face of abuse, faceless when it comes to being seen and voiceless when it comes to being heard," Alexandra Simelane, a social worker at a health clinic on the outskirts of Manzini, Swaziland's second city, told IRIN.

About 38 percent of girls and young women aged between 13 and 24-years-old reported difficulty sleeping and 29 percent had experienced unwanted pregnancies. The figures were even more dramatic for young female adults [aged 18-24 years-old]. About half had problems sleeping and had also gone through unwanted pregnancy.

The findings echo the results of a study released by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in April 2008. According to the UNICEF survey, every third woman in Swaziland had been sexually abused as a child and one in four had experienced physical violence.

Read the full article here http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=78671


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