Children behind a grid. (Source: Wiebke Weinandt)

Abuse – it affects the most vulnerable people of society

Zimbabwe: Sexual abuse, violence and neglect characterize the life of many children in Zimbabwe. More than one million orphans live in this southern African country. They are particularly vulnerable and often left to their own devices. Kindernothilfe is committed to changing this situation. Please support our work in Zimbabwe with a donation or sponsor a project.

No life for a child

Sarah was thirteen when her grandmother’s husband started abusing her. The girl is living with her grandparents because her own parents died of AIDS. She is afraid and does not know who to turn to. No one will listen to her. The police are busy and pay little attention to children. So she does not speak up even when her step-grandfather repeatedly abuses her.

Disastrous situation

A girls sits on a chair in the dark. (Source: Gunnar Rechenburg)
Children and young people are too often left alone.

Official police figures in Zimbabwe show a dramatic increase in the rape of children and young people under the age of 16. Incidents of rape have almost doubled within the period of three years. However, not only sexual abuse but also violence and neglect are part of the everyday life for many children and young people. There are many reasons for this. Zimbabwe is severely affected by the AIDS pandemic. Around one million children without parents and are particularly at risk. Children are sent off to live with relatives or step-relatives, who frequently abuse them. Teachers in Zimbabwe are poorly trained and therefore often resort to corporal punishment to enforce discipline among their pupils. Poverty and hopelessness is known to cause higher incidents of parental child abuse and neglect. Because of the devastating social and economic crisis in the country, social and state networks broke down.


Responsible for intervening in abuse cases such as Sarah’s, for punishing the perpetrators and taking caring of the victims, government agencies and social care facilities are hopelessly underfinanced, understaffed and overburdened. Funding for social workers, medical care, counselling or therapy in unavailable. All of this contributes to a high risk of severely traumatized children.

365 days a year

Children while dancing. (Source: Wiebke Weinandt)
Within workshops, children learn about their rights.

Together with our partner “Childline Zimbabwe”, we set up a project in Gweru, the fifth-largest city in Zimbabwe. The project offers children the opportunity to visit a drop-in centre if they have been the victim of abuse, violence or neglect. The centre’s social workers will listen to their story and, if necessary, follow-up with home visits for psychological interventions. Every year, the centre seeks to help 1,000 children cope with their trauma. However, children should not be exposed to traumatic experiences in the first place. With this goal in mind, Childline is organizing workshops for 2,500 children at five primary and five secondary schools that raise the awareness of children and teachers on children’s rights, protection from abuse, recognising dangerous situations, and where to turn for help. Letterboxes are set up and writing materials are distributed in schools. This allows children in need to write a letter to Childline asking for help.

Always reachable

Childline provides a free hotline for children nationwide. As Childline Zimbabwe Director Tara Miller explains: “Children can contact us with their problems 365 days a year, 24 hours a day”. Volunteers look into the cases and take further steps if necessary. Another way to reach Childline is by mail. Children can send letters to Kindernothilfe partners free of charge. Volunteers make sure to look into all letters and cases.

Everyone pulling together

Childline actively supports the Child Protection Committee in its work. Representatives from the police and educational and health authorities meet on a regular basis to discuss the question of abuse and to attempt to respond to the community needs. Furthermore, representatives from the police, schooling and health authorities, courts and local leaders are briefed on children’s rights and how to proceed in the event of abuse. The first fruits of these efforts can already be observed: a teacher heard about Sarah’s problems and contacted the Child Protection Committee. Sarah’s step-grandfather is now in prison.

Project No. 76401

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Any interventions aimed at a long-term positive impact on children's lives must contribute to realising and safeguarding their rights. This is the focus of our work, both in Germany and abroad.

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How we protect children

How we protect children

Kindernothilfe supports numerous protection programs and makes every effort to prevent the children involved in its projects abroad and in its German-based activities from sexual abuse and maltreatment.

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Donate now

Donate now

There are many ways to support the work of Kindernothilfe. Click here to find out how. Please donate and help children around the world!

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