3 MONTHS 233 RAPES 11 males abused 11-16 age group worst af­fected No HIV tests for some vic­tims

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Than­deka Moyo Nqo­bile Tshili

A TO­TAL of 233 fe­males, among them a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of girls aged less than five years were sex­u­ally abused in Bu­l­awayo in the last three months, of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics show.

A third quar­ter re­port which cov­ers July, Au­gust and Septem­ber from the Na­tional Aids Coun­cil (Nac) in­di­cates that a ma­jor­ity of the vic­tims did not get coun­selling and were not tested for HIV.

Eleven males also suf­fered sex­ual abuse in the city dur­ing the same pe­riod.

The worst af­fected age group among the sex­u­ally abused was those aged 11 to 16 years where, of the 108 girls who were abused, only 75 man­aged to get coun­selling.

The re­port shows 31 girls and four boys aged be­low five years fell vic­tim to sex preda­tors in the three months.

A to­tal of 42 girls and three boys aged be­tween five and 10 years were abused while 34 fe­males and one male aged be­tween 17 and 24 years were sex­u­ally abused.

The re­port in­di­cates that 18 women aged above 25 years suf­fered abuse.

Nac says the num­ber of sex­ual abuse cases in the prov­ince is high given that only 180 of the to­tal fig­ure tested for HIV.

“We recorded a to­tal of 244 peo­ple who were sex­u­ally abused in the pe­riod un­der re­view. Of the to­tal which man­aged to get tested, four women aged 17-25+ were found to be HIV pos­i­tive.

“We man­aged to give Pre-Ex­po­sure Pro­phy­laxis (PrEP) to 53 women in all the four age groups that were used in com­ing up with the sta­tis­tics. The youngest age group had chil­dren aged from zero to five fol­lowed by those aged five to 10,” said Nac.

Cen­tres of Disease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) says PrEP is a way for peo­ple who do not have HIV but who are at sub­stan­tial risk of get­ting it to pre­vent HIV in­fec­tion by tak­ing a pill ev­ery day. The pill (brand name Tru­vada) con­tains two medicines (teno­fovir and emtric­itabine) that are used in com­bi­na­tion with other medicines to treat HIV.

The Nac study also in­cor­po­rated mem­bers of the public aged 11 to 16; 17 to 24 and the old­est age group had peo­ple aged 25 and above.

“About 22 per­cent of the to­tal peo­ple who were abused are re­ceiv­ing post-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis (PEP). Un­for­tu­nately the most af­fected age group in males is the zero-five age group,” it says.

CDC says PrEP in­volves tak­ing an­tiretro­vi­ral medicines (ART) af­ter be­ing po­ten­tially ex­posed to HIV to pre­vent be­com­ing in­fected. PrEP should be used only in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions and must be started within 72 hours af­ter a re­cent pos­si­ble ex­po­sure to HIV.

Po­lice have al­ways urged par­ents to mon­i­tor their chil­dren when­ever they are play­ing and en­cour­age them to speak out if any­one touches them in­ap­pro­pri­ately.

They have also warned young adults against go­ing to par­ties or events where they are usu­ally plied with beer and drugs and even­tu­ally get sex­u­ally abused.

Na­tional po­lice spokesper­son Se­nior As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Char­ity Charamba re­cently said at least 325 cases of ju­ve­nile rape are recorded ev­ery month.

The fig­ures trans­late to 11 mi­nors be­ing raped in the coun­try ev­ery day. The po­lice spokesper­son said it was wor­ry­ing that peo­ple who are close to the mi­nors were the ones sex­u­ally as­sault­ing them. — @thamamoe . ONE of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent churches, Zaoga, has been a tar­get for rob­beries in Bu­l­awayo, with crim­i­nals hit­ting four of its branches in the city this month.

Po­lice have since ad­vised churches to de­posit tithes and of­fer­ings into banks and em­ploy se­cu­rity guards on their premises to de­ter thieves.

Rob­bers al­legedly struck at four Zaoga church branches in Nku­lumane, En­tum­bane, North End sub­urbs and city cen­tre within a three-week pe­riod.

In one of the in­ci­dents two sus­pects armed with a wheel span­ner at­tacked a woman they found pray­ing in the church at about 1AM.

Act­ing Bu­l­awayo po­lice spokesper­son As­sis­tant In­spec­tor Abed­nico Ncube said two sus­pects who at­tacked the woman on Novem­ber 2 in Nku­lumane, got away with noth­ing.

“They pounced at the church at about 1AM where they at­tacked the se­cu­rity guard and a fe­male con­gre­gant they found pray­ing in the church build­ing. The woman was hit with a span­ner on the jaw and fell un­con­scious,” he said.

“The rob­bers then pro­ceeded to the care­taker’s house where they found the sec­ond woman whom they struck with the span­ner on the jaw. The woman screamed and an­other woman peeped through the win­dow and the rob­bers saw her be­fore giv­ing chase.”

Asst Insp Ncube said the armed rob­bers at­tacked the woman be­fore ty­ing her up with a rope and wire and dis­ap­peared with noth­ing.

He said the fol­low­ing day rob­bers pounced on the church’s branch in En­tum­bane and North End sub­urbs, as well as an­other in the city cen­tre.

“The rob­bers broke into a church in North End where they stole a PA sys­tem. In the same week they also broke into the church’s branch in Fife Street where they got away with $100,” he said.

He urged churches to avoid hoard­ing large sums of money, say­ing tithes and of­fer­ings have be­come tar­gets for rob­bers.

“We’ve a strong con­vic­tion that some of these rob­bers have in­tel­li­gence of what would be hap­pen­ing in the churches that’s why a sin­gle church was tar­geted four times in the same month,” he said.

Asst Insp Ncube said po­lice are hunt­ing for the sus­pects who will face charges rang­ing from at­tempted mur­der, un­law­ful en­try, and theft.

Mean­while, po­lice have urged mem­bers of the public to be wary of crim­i­nals and se­cure their prop­er­ties as the coun­try ap­proaches the fes­tive sea­son.

Asst Insp Ncube said the fes­tive sea­son re­sults in many Di­as­po­rans com­ing to the city and crim­i­nals try to take ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion.

The fes­tive sea­son runs from De­cem­ber 15 to Jan­uary 15.

“It’s against this back­ground that as po­lice we urge mem­bers of the public to take in­ter­est in pro­tect­ing their prop­er­ties through tar­get hard­en­ing and tar­get re­moval,” said Asst Insp Ncube.

He said mem­bers of the public must in­crease se­cu­rity at their homes to make it dif­fi­cult for crim­i­nals to break in.

Asst Insp Ncube urged the public and busi­ness sec­tor to avoid keep­ing large sums of money in their homes or of­fices.

He said fuel sta­tions are some of the ar­eas that have be­come tar­gets for rob­bers, urg­ing them to bank their daily tak­ings. — @nqot­shili.

The Zaoga Church in Bu­l­awayo’s Nku­lumane sub­urb

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