The project is implemented with funding from the Egmont Trust UK. It is titled improving the lives of abused girls using Edu-toy (Education using Toys) approach in Rumphi district.
Child sexual abuse is a big problem in Malawi, exacerbated by local beliefs and a culture of silence within the community. Most abuse goes unreported to the authorities, with many children telling no one at all. The Edu-Toy initiative seeks to bring together two established and highly successful methods of working to bring about change.
LICO works with all sections of the community from established institutions and opinion leaders to village communities and families. By educating people in a way that makes sense within the context of their own lives and by engaging all of those involved in the issues effecting their community, we are able to bring about an everlasting change. This policy earned us a UNAIDS Red Ribbon award in 2014 and has been the root of our success in the field of HIV education and support
The Edu-Toy project aims to deal with the root causes that lead to children being abused, by engaging local people to change attitudes. We also help children directly through teaching, counselling and by setting up systems to ensure that abuse cases can go to court and be heard.
Cultural practices intensify the problem of child sexual abuse. In most parts of Malawi, there is a belief that if a man has sex with a child he will be cured of HIV. There is also a belief that by having sex with a child under the age of 10, a farmer will get more money at auction for their tobacco harvest.
Cases often occur within extended families making it difficult for the child to report it, often it is the bread winner who is abusing children within the family. Rumphi district is one of the districts experiencing increased cases of child sexual abuse with over 120 reported cases per year.
The goal of the project is to prevent sexual abuse among girls, support those abused to access care and empower communities and stakeholders to address sexual abuse and violence against girls in Rumphi district.
LICO has been championing the Edu-Toy initiative since 2011. Key activities include: Increasing access and utilization of sexual abuse and violence against girls support services for victims; Preventing sexual abuse, promoting identification of abused girls and early referral for services; Building the capacity of service providers in the provision of comprehensive treatment and care of sexually abused girls; Developing and strengthening partnerships with law enforcement institutions to ensure abused girls get the legal justice and perpetrators prosecuted.