Swaziland undertook the Violence Against Girls Survey (VACS) in 2007. The first of its kind, the survey focused on sexual, physical and emotional violence against female children and young adults between the ages of 13 and 24, and the objectives were to describe the epidemiology of the violence (i.e. patterns and distribution of the violence), and to identify potential risk and protective factors.
The survey findings in Swaziland indicate:
- About 1 in 3 females experienced some form of sexual violence as a child.
- Almost 43 percent of girls and women who reported any incident of sexual violence had two or more incidents before they reached age 18.
- 1 in 4 girls and young women reported experiencing physical violence prior to age 18. Of these, 65 percent described the perpetrator as being violent multiple times.
- Sexual violence was associated with significantly increased probability of depression, thoughts of suicide, unintended pregnancy, pregnancy complications or miscarriages, and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.
While Swaziland was the first country and served as a prototype, all future surveys include boys’ experiences. For more information from the Swaziland VACS, read 10 Things that Everyone Should Know About Violence Against Children in Swaziland.
Since the completion of the Survey, Swaziland has taken several important steps, including:
- Passed the Children’s Protection and Welfare Bill and the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill in 2011.
- Scaled up post-rape care services through one-stop centers.
- Created Domestic Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit within the Swaziland police and established Child-Friendly Corners in all 24 police stations.
- Trained the justice sector on prosecuting offenders and setting up child-friendly courts.
- Launched a database to track reported cases of violence.
- Engaged religious leaders from eight major faith groups to address violence against children.
- Supported mentored, school-based girls empowerment clubs at the primary and secondary school level to build girls social assets and change attitudes about violence.
- In May 2014, the Government of Swaziland hosted the first Violence Against Children Global Meeting: “From Research to Action: Advancing Prevention and Response to Violence Against Children”, where participants from 20 countries engaged with the VACS process met to discuss progress, research on what works to prevent and respond to violence, and next steps.
Government: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, Central Statistics Office, Royal Swaziland Police
Non-Government: Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, Save the Children, World Vision, and National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS
Bilateral and Multilateral Organizations: UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, WHO, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Division of Violence Prevention (CDC/DVP), USAID