South Africa is regarded as one of the most violent countries in the world. Our high crime levels often makes international news, however, the cases that do make the headlines only skim the surface of the abuse experienced by children on a daily basis.

When 6 year old Thando told her mother that her father was forcing her to have sex with him, she did not expect the further torment she and her family would face.

The abuse started 3 years ago when he began touching her whenever they were alone. Even though her parents are separated her father has frequent access to her. Thando’s mother, Thembi, was horrified as Thando relayed the story but still she was reluctant to report the case as Thando’s father is a police officer and his uncle is a judge at the local magistrate. After some persuasion from other family members, Thembi took Thando to the police station to report the matter. They were told that Thembi is just a bitter woman, using her daughter to get back at her former husband. They were turned away and the matter was never reported. To add further insult the police officers spread the word that Thembi was trying to get back at her ex-husband and without listening to her side of the story, the community has turned against her. Thando suffers tremendous guilt for coming out to her mother and lives with anxiety and shame caused by her father’s actions. Her grandmother reached out to Save the Children South Africa shortly after our radio interview talking about our five year campaign to see an end to violence against children.

Thando’s story is not unusual children who are brave enough to speak out are often victimised again. While we were able to intervene by alerting the authorities to this case, but there are many children who suffer in silence. It is for this reason that we aim to produce programmes that actively seek to prevent violent crimes from taking place in the first place and give children back their childhood. 

Earlier this year we commissioned a VAC costing study to calculate the price of VAC on the South African economy. The study revealed that South Africa lost R238 billion in GDP in 2015 alone. The research was unpacked at a press launch on 23 November 2016. The launch was followed by the opening of a 16 Day art exhibition at Constitutional Hill. The exhibition aims to raise awareness about the plight of children in South Africa, galvanise political support and start a dialogue that will see an end to violence against children.

“The amount of money is actually missing the point. Each rand is merely a measure of the needless pain and suffering being inflicted on our children every day. This is a cancer that is eating away at the very heart of our society. And it’s no longer enough to simply address the symptoms. It’s no longer enough to continue putting sticky plasters on broken bones. It’s no longer enough to wipe away the tears. Save the Children SA will work tirelessly to eradicate this scourge over the next 5 years,” Save the Children South Africa CEO, Gugu Ndebele.

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The photo appearing in this blog is used for illustrative purposes only; there is no relationship between the child depicted in the photo and the content of the text.