A study by Save the Children Afghanistan has found that as many as 91 percent of all children in Afghanistan are subjected to abuse of some sort.
The study, based on interviews with about 1,000 children and their parents in at least five provinces, found that only nine percent of children did not have to deal with any form of abuse.
The findings of the study, released on Tuesday, show a huge increase in incidents of abuse against children, that include physical violence, burning of children, giving them drugs, sexual abuse and using them for heavy manual labor.
The survey was conducted in Kabul, Nangarhar, Balkh, Jawzjan and Sar-e-Pul provinces.
“The survey shows that the experience of children regarding abuse, including sexual violence in society and at home are at its highest. In-fact, 91 percent of respondents said they face some sort of violence. Fifty percent of parents or guardians said they use some sort of physical method to discipline children, but with the consideration of the high level of violence, physical violence and insults are among the two major types of violence children face at home,” the report read.
“The main factor of violence against children is poverty, unemployment and lack of government support to children,” said Paul Barker, CEO of Save the Children in Afghanistan.
About 1,000 children were interviewed in the survey and half of them said that they also deal with mental abuse in some way at home.
Thirty eight percent of the respondents said that boys and girls are both subjected to abuse equally. Twenty nine percent of the children believe that the girls however are more at risk of sexual abuse while seven percent said boys were more at risk of sexual abuse.
Thirty eight percent of the children said that last year (2016) they lost at least one family member to violence. Thirty one percent of the children live in areas where they had been exposed to gunfire, bombs and residents engaged in armed confrontations.
Seventeen percent said that they had experienced robberies in their home while 39 percent said the adults in their homes discussed gruesome stories.
The survey found that four percent of elders believe that imposing corporal punishment against children was important.
But sixty four percent of respondents said that non-physical means of punishment was better for children.
Thirty two percent of the children said they were punished because of deeds they were not guilty of while 16 percent said they had been subjected to extremely harsh punishment. Fifty six percent of the children said that harsh punishment was not helpful and it would not deter them from misbehaving.
The survey shows that sexual abuse is a particularly serious problem.
Physical violence faced by children ranged from kicking through to choking.
Forty percent said they had been kicked, forty percent said they had been hit with an object, 34 percent said they had been choked, 15 percent had been burned and 15 percent had been given drugs.
The children mostly subjected to violence where found to be living in rural areas.
The study also found that almost 50 percent of children were subjected to mental abuse including insults, verbal abuse and being accused of being a burden to parents. They had also been sworn at, insulted in public and threatened with being kicked out of home.
Seventy five percent of the children surveyed said they had to work in order to help support their families. Half of the respondents said they work in order to pay for school.
“There is a problem, we accept this, but efforts are underway to improve the conditions of children,” said Maryam Zurmati, a children’s rights activist.
“The statistics are much higher than the present social structures of Afghanistan,” said Safiullah Amarkhail, Save the Children advisor.
Save the Children said that the situation of Afghan children in the country was not good and called on the Afghan government to consider recommendations made by the organization to improve the situation.
According to the survey, nine percent of those who carried out the abuse were fathers, 3.9 percent are the mothers, 15 percent are relatives or elders who do not live in the same house, and 22 percent were members of the public.
In society, powerful individuals committed 48 percent of the violence, and police five percent. Armed groups were responsible for 32 percent while religious leaders were 4.4 percent.
Based on the report, 55 percent of parents in the provinces said they sent their children out to work in order to boost their income.
According to the report, parents, relatives and teachers are the main culprits in terms of abusing children.
Eighteen percent of children said that children are at risk of being recruited by armed opponents.