Let’s curb rape, abuse of young girls
ELSEWHERE on these pages, we publish a disturbing story detailing shocking statistics released by the police yesterday in which they revealed that about 325 girls are raped in the country every month. This translates to 81 plus rape cases every week or about 11 children being raped every day. This is astonishing, downright shocking and diabolical. Certainly some soul searching is in order. President Mugabe, First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko are on record as having called for the castration of rapists and child abusers. Speaking at his 92nd birthday celebrations at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments earlier this year, President Mugabe said he was baffled by people who abuse minors. “What sex impulse is it which gets one to abuse a little child? I wonder what enough punishment for such people is,” he said.
“Can you suggest how such brutal monsters among us that rape babies should be punished . . . burdizzo (castration device)? We should make them oxen, some people should be made oxen.” The President, however, conceded that Government was going to attract the wrath of human rights defenders if it were to go ahead with such a plan. “Again, human rights people will say it (castration) is too severe,” he said. “Sharia Law says if you use your hand to steal, that hand must be cut off. Now you use what to abuse the child? I think that which you use should be cut off. They will go and get an artificial one (I) think,” he said in jest.
While we are not advocating for the castration of rapists, we feel our judicial system needs to deal ruthlessly with rapists and child abusers. Yesterday, national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, revealed that a majority of rape victims are aged between 11 and 15 years. Speaking during a campaign to raise awareness about drugs and juvenile rape in Bulawayo, Snr Asst Comm Charamba, said:
“At least 325 cases of juvenile rape are recorded every month. Meaning we’re having 81 plus rape cases on a weekly basis. These are very scary figures and we’ve noted most of the minors being raped are between the ages of 11 and 15”.
She said it was worrying that people who are close to the minors were the ones sexually assaulting them. “Relatives, neighbours, boyfriends, herdboys and church mates are the main perpetrators of these rape incidents. These kids are raped by the people they know. They’re not being raped by strangers in bushes but in their homes,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba. “They are threatened with assault or murder if they report the sexual assaults. But we’re encouraging them to report these cases. We’ve never dealt with any incident where someone was killed for reporting rape.”
She said the police were worried about rape victims who are not reporting that they are being abused. “Most juveniles are reluctant to report their cases. It’s only the 11 to 15-yearolds who are coming forward to report their cases,” Snr Asst Comm Charamba said, adding that it was disturbing that rapists were buying juveniles’ silence with petty things such as jiggies, or promising them money.
She urged the girl child to avoid travelling in secluded places saying these areas make them targets for sexual attacks.
We find the statistics released by the police to be disturbingly high and we feel it is time authorities did something to curb the abuse of young girls. What is frightening is that there are silent victims of rape who for some reason fail to report cases of rape particularly those perpetrated by close relatives. In 2014, Government proposed the introduction of a 30-year mandatory sentence for rape with sodomy, the rape of children aged between zero and 12 years set to attract a life imprisonment.
Perpetrators of rape who commit the offence fully knowing they are HIV-positive were also set to be sentenced to life in jail under the proposals tabled by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development. We strongly feel the proposals should be revisited and implemented as a matter of urgency in light of the latest statistics.
We also call on rape survivors to report their cases to the police or confide in family members, friends or community leaders and not suffer in silence. Awareness campaigns should be intensified particularly in rural and poor communities where the vice is rife.
Families need not protect rapists in their midst as this increases the risk of the perpetrator targeting more victims. Young people should also desist from substance abuse as this opens them to rape or sexual assault. Besides exposing themselves to teenage pregnancies, HIV, STIs and mental problems, drug and alcohol abuse destroys their lives and diminishes their potential to achieve better things in life.