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Launch of the Disrupting Harm Report for Tanzania on Technology and the Sexual Exploitation of Children

Posted on Mar 18, 2022

PRESS BRIEFING: 18 March 2022

 

BREAKING – Stigma and negative attitudes towards sex increase children’s vulnerability to online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Tanzania.

 

Country Overview – Tanzania

The ground-breaking, evidence-led research report, Disrupting Harm in Tanzania, recently uncovered that in the last year alone, approximately 200,000 children were victims of grave instances of online sexual exploitation and abuse in Tanzania. The report found that children were subjected to harmful experiences, such as being blackmailed to engage in sexual activities and/ or being coerced to engage in sexual activities through promises of money or gifts. Frontline workers surveyed said national attitudes towards sex could put children at a greater risk.

Frontline workers cited a general lack of awareness and understanding about online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Tanzania, noting that it is a ‘new’ issue that many do not understand the concept of. One respondent shared, “Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is still a very new issue for most of us. Even when you tell the police about online child exploitation and abuse, it will take a long time for them to understand.”

Additionally, frontline workers surveyed found that many children did not know that sexual behaviour in any form is unacceptable, indicative of a lack of awareness and education. In fact, only 30% of internet-using children have received some level of sex education in Tanzania. One frontline worker noted, “Most victims of online and offline sexual exploitation are not aware that they were abused.”

 

Key findings in the Disrupting Harm in Tanzania report include:

  • 3% of internet-using children aged 12-17 surveyed were offered money or gifts to engage in sexual acts in person.
  • 2% of the surveyed children were offered money or gifts in exchange for sexual images.
  • 6% of children received unwanted requests to talk about sex in the last year.
  • 3% were asked to share images and videos showing their private parts to others
  • Children who experienced sexual abuse and exploitation were unaware of the reporting mechanisms available:
    • 82% of the internet-using children surveyed said they did not know how to report harmful content on social media.
    • 67% said they did not know where to get help if they or a friend were subjected to sexual harassment or abuse

 

To tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse, Disrupting Harm in Tanzania notes that authorities, government officials, and leaders need to introduce more programs and initiatives aimed at improving support services, building a better understanding and awareness of the issue, and reframing harmful attitudes towards sex across the community.

 

Read the full report here and explore more information under the Country Reports tab.

 

About Disrupting Harm

In early 2019, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, through its Safe Online initiative, invested $7 million to develop Disrupting Harm, a holistic and innovative research project that aims to better understand how digital technology facilitates the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Safe Online brought together and funded three organisations – ECPAT, INTERPOL and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti – to undertake new research in 13 countries across Eastern and Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. This type of holistic research and assessment is new and unique in that it uses a multi-sector approach and the specific expertise of these three global agencies and their local partners. The methodology developed for these assessments has been implemented across the 13 countries and can be used by other countries in the future.

 

What is online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA)?

Online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) refers to situations involving digital, internet and communication technologies at some point during the continuum of abuse or exploitation. OCSEA can occur fully online or through a mix of online and in-person interactions between offenders and children.

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