image_country_malawiSurvey: Violence Against Children and Young Women in Malawi: Findings From a National Survey 2013

Response: National Plan of Action for Vulnerable Children

Advocacy Resources 

The Violence Against Children and Young Women Survey (VACS) data collection was completed in 2013, and the Republic of Malawi launched its final VACS report on March 24, 2015 along with a report on its priority responses.

To prepare for the VACS, the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, in partnership with University of Malawi Center for Social Research, implemented a cognitive laboratory study of the VACS survey instrument in Malawi to inform adaptation of the questionnaire to the local context. In addition, UNICEF Malawi and the Center for Social Research conducted a qualitative study to further inform the national quantitative study.

The findings highlight:

The findings indicate that violence against children is a serious problem in Malawi. The survey provides a wealth of data on the experience of children relative to violence, including the prevalence, locations, timing and consequences, as well as information about perpetration of violence:

  • One out of five females and one out of seven males in Malawi have experienced at least one incident of sexual abuse prior to the age of 18 years.
  • Almost half of all females and two-thirds of males experienced physical violence prior to 18 years
  • Approximately one-fourth to one-fifth experienced emotional violence.
  • Nearly one-fourth of all children experienced multiple forms of violence
  • While nearly two thirds of boys and girls told someone about their experiences of sexual violence, very few ever received any services (9 percent of girls and 6 percent of boys).
  • Boys who experienced physical or sexual violence during childhood were significantly more likely to have perpetrated physical or sexual intimate partner violence.

Response: Priority Responses to the Malawi VACS

The data presented in the VACS provide a strong foundation for the development of prevention and response strategies in Malawi. Some key strategies include :

  • Increase safe, stable and nurturing relationships (SSNRs) between children and their parents and caregivers: Training and home visitation programs provide practical skills for parents to manage the stress of childrearing, while also identifying potential areas for education and social support.
  • Develop life skills in children and adolescents: Pro-social skills provide children with the means to manage anger and conflict in relationships. Such programs can be implemented through the full school cycle, including preschool and afterschool programs.
  • Promote gender equality to prevent violence against women: Gender stereotypes increase women’s vulnerability while reducing their ability to seek services for harm. Programs to address gender inequality can be situated in schools, in communities, and in public education initiatives. Additionally, programs that increase women’s access to education, employment, and services can also reduce their vulnerability.
  • Change cultural and social norms that support violence: Acceptability of violence is a barrier to child protection. In-school programs and public education initiatives can be utilized to change norms around the use of violence. Policies that increase accountability can also help reduce violence.
  • Reduce violence through victim identification, care and support programs: Stigma around violent victimization prevents survivors of violence (or those vulnerable to violence) from seeking care and support. Strengthening systems of support and normalizing careseeking can reduce violence and increase service uptake. Strategies to identify and refer victims, health provider training, child advocacy programs, and provision of mental health services are all essential elements in reducing violence in Malawi.


Ministry of Gender Children, Disability and Social Welfare (MoGCDSW),  Ministry of Disability and Elderly Affairs, Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour, Malawi Police Service, National Statistics Office, Centre for Youth and Children’s Affairs, District Social Welfare office (Chiradzulu, Zomba, and Blantyre), Malawi Human Rights Commission, University of Malawi Centre for Social Research, Eye of the Child, Foundation for Children Rights, Malawi College of Medicine, Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre, National Child Justice Forum, Norwegian Church Aid , Plan Malawi. Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children Malawi, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, World Vision Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO), Youth Watch Society

Bilateral and Multilateral Organizations: UNICEF Malawi, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Division of Violence Prevention (CDC/DVP), UN Women, UNFPA, USAID, WHO, and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief (PEPFAR)

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