On 14 May 1991, Sao Tome and Principe ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a binding human rights treaty that recognizes children as individual subjects of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. State Parties to the Convention have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill all rights for all children under their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind and at all times. Those who violate child rights must be held to account.
A lot of progress has since been made in the area of child protection in the country, particularly with regards to legislation and regulation with the adoption of a new Family Law in 2018, the Code of Guardianship Organization for Minors in the same year, the new Labor Code in 2019 and the adoption of the National Child Protection Policy in 2016. Advances are especially visible in the area of birth registration, with almost all children under age 5 having their births registered. Yet, despite these results, physical, psychological and sexual violence against children remains a challenge in the country, whether taking place at home, in the community, in schools or online. Usually such violence is an invisible problem, a secret. People normalize it or do not report it out of fear or shame. When unaddressed, however, it can undermine children’s emotional, psychological and cognitive development, cause them to develop violent behaviours and undermine progress at societal level.
Strategic data can shed light on the invisible face of violence and unpack whether current interventions are working to ensure the protection of all children, especially the most disadvantaged. Evidence-based planning means that the best available data, information and knowledge are used to make decisions, ensuring that planned interventions are linked to results.
It is our hope that the findings in this report will constitute a key reference to support our joint efforts, contributing to the development, improvement and reinforcement of prevention and response strategies to combat violence against children and youth as part of a broader, more comprehensive and multisectoral approach for the protection of all children.
UNICEF Deputy Representative, Sao Tome and Principe