Let’s curb rape, abuse of young girls

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

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.

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