A study by UNICEF has revealed that one-third of girls under 18 in Tanzania have been sexually abused while about one in six boys have suffered such violence.

The United Nation’s children's agency warned that such abuse may range from inappropriate sexual touching all the way to rape.

The survey also revealed that almost 30 percent of females who had sex before the age of 18 did so unwillingly (the figure for boys was just under 18 percent).

"Tanzania is the first country with the courage to expose the full extent of child abuse among boys and girls," UNICEF official Andy Brooks told the BBC.

Brooks added that his agency will carry out similar studies in Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The Tanzanian government said it is committed to wiping out sexual abuse and rape of children.

United Nations Deputy Secretary General Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro stated: “I am so pleased that Tanzania is taking the initiative of confronting this painful problem. Children make up half of the population here. They are our greatest national treasure.”

Of Tanzania’s 40 million people, half are under the age of 18.

According to a report on the BBC a few months ago, girls from rural villages who are seeking education and must live far from the protection of their families are especially at risk.

The so-called “senior schools" allow girls to finish their schooling — but it also make them vulnerable to sexual predators.

One such girl told BBC: "Even if we scream for help, people hardly come to our rescue. By the time the police get here, well ... they'll already be finished. So the men just do what they want."