With a population of 44 million, half of whom are under 18 years of age, Tanzania’s population is plagued by poverty with the country currently ranked 152 out of 186 on the Human Development Index. It is a sad fact that two million of Tanzania’s children have been orphaned or abandoned, largely due to the HIV/AIDS crisis.
High numbers of parentless children, coupled with poverty and large migration flows from neighbouring countries and rural areas, have led to a growth in the number of street children in urban areas. In 2011 there were approximately 800,000 children living in “adverse conditions” and close to 668,000 street children with limited access to health and education services. Children living on the streets are incredibly vulnerable to sexual exploitation, especially child prostitution.
Passing a law is not sufficient to fully protect children. In order to effectively enforce Tanzania’s laws and policies preventing and prohibiting the prostitution of children, it is essential that law enforcement officials are well trained and are knowledgeable about children’s rights issues and child protection mechanisms. Through lack of training, resources and even corruption far too often the police can further victimise children who have been sexually exploited. One survey discovered that 84% of girls who have been prostituted in Tanzania were beaten, raped or tortured by police officers or local guards.
To understand more about the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Tanzania and what needs to be done to end these violent crimes against children, you can read the full report here.