AFGHANISTAN: Domestic violence against children widespread – study
KABUL, 26 February 2008 (IRIN) – Corporal punishment of children by their parents is widely practiced across Afghanistan and is commonly accepted as a form of discipline, says a new study by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), a Kabul-based think-tank.
“Violence towards children in the family is accepted as a normal part of parent-child relationships with little social judgment made toward the perpetrators,” says the study based on interviews conducted in Bamyan, Herat, Kabul and Nangarhar provinces.
The report, Love, Fear and Discipline: Everyday Violence toward Children in Afghan Families, said many Afghan families perceived corporal punishment as a good way to bring up their children.
Some parents lashed out at their children due to stress, frustration and economic insecurity, it said.
“Slapping, ear-pulling, verbal abuse, kicking, punching, beating with sticks or electricity cables or shoes,” are the most commonly practiced forms of domestic violence directed against children, says the study released on 24 February in Kabul.
AREU’s findings also indicate that many parents recognised the physical and psychological harm caused by violence to children and that corporal punishment was not always the best way to discipline their children.
Some parents have said they were keen to adopt non-violent ways of bringing up their children, but they “have very little knowledge” about it.
“Any programme working to tackle violence toward children must first recognise that there is a general awareness in the communities of the negative consequences of violence to children… sensitisation campaigns should therefore focus on informing people about alternative parenting skills,” the study recommends.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education (MoE) welcomed the study and said its findings would help the government and other non-government organisations tackle domestic violence against children through different programmes.
“We will establish an independent educational TV channel in the near future through which we will boost public awareness about the negative impacts of violence towards children and the effectiveness of non-violent behaviour with them,” said Safiullah Zeer, director of Educational Radio and TV at the MoE, in Kabul.
The AREU study also said that besides being exposed to domestic violence, some children had been taken out of school in order to work full-time and support their families.
“Significant numbers of families find survival difficult without the contributions of children’s labour,” the study found.
The study said both male and female children had paid and unpaid responsibilities at home and outside.
Female children mostly undertake domestic work such as sweeping, washing and cooking, both to assist their mothers and as training for their future roles as wives and mothers, it said.
Boys typically engaged in outside activities such as collecting water or wood, running errands or taking care of animals.