Eswatini makes remarkable strides in reducing violence against children and youth
Mbabane, Eswatini. On September 12, 2023, the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini launched the report of its second Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS), 15 years after the launch of its first survey in 2007. Data from the 2022 VACS reflects remarkable progress in the reduction of violence against children and youth.
The survey reveals that in the last 15 years, Eswatini has seen:
A fall in lifetime sexual violence among girls aged 13-24 from nearly one in two girls to fewer than one in ten (48.9% to 8.1%)
A fall in childhood sexual violence among girls from more than one in three girls to one in twenty (37.7% to 5.5%)
Significant increases in HIV testing and knowledge of HIV status.
In 2007, Eswatini was the first country to undertake a VACS. The first of its kind, the survey focused on sexual, physical, and emotional violence against girls and young adult females between the ages of 13 and 24. The troubling results and subsequent mobilization by the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini showed the power of using data to inform action, taking important steps in preventing violence against children in just 15 years.
One of the initiatives implemented during this time is Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH), a group-and evidence-based parenting programme delivered by Pact in Eswatini. In particular, the PLH for Teens program has helped caregivers adopt positive parenting and non-violent discipline techniques, which in turn led to the development of good behavioral habits from both parents and children.
A recent study involving over 1,200 parent-teenager pairs revealed important reductions in levels of harsh parenting, specifically corporal punishment. Reductions in corporal punishment are often accompanied by an improvement in teen wellbeing, including less substance misuse and better school and HIV outcomes.
PLH for Teens is an example of the many initiatives that were implemented in Eswatini after the first VACS in 2007 and that have contributed to reducing violence against children and adolescents in the country*.
“The Eswatini 2022 VACS reflects the crucial steps taken by the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to prevent violence against children and youth since 2007,” said Daniela Ligiero, CEO and President of Together for Girls. “The story of the two surveys is clear: violence is preventable. We can create a safer world for children and adolescents.”
“This second VACS shows remarkable progress, with a significant reduction of violence against children and youth.,” said Najat Maalla M'jid, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children. “Eswatini used data from their first survey to inform a series of targeted and context-specific interventions. Of course there is much more to do, but the results from Eswatini prove that when we use data to drive cross-sectoral actions and to measure their impacts, change is possible.
Despite this remarkable progress, any act of violence is one too many. Results from the 2022 VACS show violence in childhood is still common in Eswatini: one out of every four (25.5 percent) of females and nearly one out of three (31.7 percent) of males experienced any violence in childhood. These findings highlight the need to continue striving for effective solutions that can prevent sexual violence and access healing and justice for survivors.
To learn more about Eswatini’s progress, visit the Together for Girls Eswatini country page.
About the Eswatini II Violence Against Children and Youth Survey
The Violence Against Children and Youth survey was conducted in 2022 and led by the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Central Statistical Office. Survey implementation was carried out by the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at Columbia University. Supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the survey team received technical support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the Together for Girls partnership.
About the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys
The Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) are led by national governments, with technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of the Together for Girls (TfG) partnership, with support from various partners such as UNICEF, PEPFAR, USAID, and the Government of Canada.
About Together for Girls
Ending violence against children cannot be solved by a single actor or sector alone. Together for Girls is a global partnership working to end sexual violence against children and adolescents. Active in over 20 countries, Together for Girls unites actors that often do not work together, including national governments, United Nations entities, the private sector, civil society, and survivors. Through data and advocacy, Together for Girls drives action to break cycles of violence and ensure prevention, healing, and justice.
*PLH SUPER Study Team (2023). Initial results of the study of the Parenting for Lifelong Health for Teens programme in Eswatini. Universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Fort Hare.