On 19 July 2018, World Vision Rwanda, jointly with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) and the National Commission of Children (NCC), officially launched a new advocacy campaign calling all Rwandans to join hands in the fight to eliminate the two worst forms of violence against children in Rwanda –child labour and sexual abuse. Part of World Vision’s global campaign, ‘It Takes a World to end Violence against Children’, the new campaign (contextualized to ‘It Takes Every Rwandan to End Child Exploitation’ or ‘It Takes Every Rwandan’) will be a five-year campaign whose priorities will be to, among others, ensure that child labour and sexual abuse cases are highlighted and punished by law as required; and to advocate for an end to this kind of violence across the nation.
Despite the Government of Rwanda’s remarkable efforts to ensure that more than 8,300 children are no longer victims of child labour, and 98.9% of reported child defilement cases were handled by courts in just this past year alone, many Rwandan children are sadly still victims of violence:
- The percentage of working children 14 to 17 years old was 30.7%, almost half of them working with pay in an employment activity (labour-force survey-pilot, National Institute of Statistics Rwanda, 2016).
- 29% of the total number of children in Rwanda aged between 5 and 14 years old had been victims of child labour at the time of UNICEF’s release of their State of the World’s Children 2016 Report: A fair chance for every child.
- Findings in the Ministry of Health’s 2017 Violence against Children and Youth Survey established that among females with experiences of unwanted completed sex in childhood, 48 percent of those aged 18-24 and 51 percent of those aged 19-24 reported pregnancy as a result.
- In the latter report, 83% of females aged 18-24 who had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 had abandoned school as a consequence.
In total, more than quarter of a million children are victims of child labour and sexual abuse in Rwanda. The ‘It Takes Every Rwandan’ campaign, thus, aligns with and contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to “end the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children”.
In her speech declaring the ‘It Takes Every Rwandan’ campaign officially launched and inviting all Rwandans to join in the fight against child exploitation, Hon. Nyirasafari Espérance, Minister of MIGEPROF stressed that the harm caused to children by sexual abuse and child labour extends beyond the outward and visible:
“Child labour is a crime that interferes with children’s ability to lead a normal life because it involves work that is mentally, physically, socially and morally dangerous and harmful to them. Even worse than it, child sexual abuse leaves young girls and boys forever scarred physically, emotionally, and psychologically”, said Hon. Nyirasafari
“With this campaign, we seek to bring different actors together to relentlessly advocate for an end to child labour and sexual abuse; to highlight this violence when it occurs and hold those responsible to account, and to work with victims to make their stories and voices heard.”, added the Minister.
Ambassador Peter H. Vrooman of the United States to the Republic of Rwanda also attended the launch and saluted the amazing leadership of the Government of Rwanda together with the civil society, put in evidence during the launch of the ‘It Takes Every Rwandan’ campaign:
“As much as the data presented is alarming, we still have the power to end violence against children in Rwanda thanks to the different expertise, partnerships, programmes already in place”, said the Ambassador.
World Vision Rwanda’s National Director Sean Kerrigan also spoke at the launch event, underlining the importance of the ‘It Takes Every Rwandan’ campaign being a collective effort, and imploring everyone in the Rwandan society to get involved in the fight to end child exploitation:
“As humanitarian workers who work with children in the most remote corners of the world, and especially as an organization whose interventions are focused on children’s total enjoyment of their childhood, it breaks our hearts to have to hear about cases of children still experiencing the worst forms of violence today. Given the upsetting figures shared in our campaign documents, fighting violence against children requires all of us to act, and today is about action. I am glad that we are all here to collectively make a commitment to protect our children from violence”, he said.
The overall goal of the It Takes Every Rwandan campaign is to contribute to increased protection of children from child labour and sexual abuse by 2022.