Article by Khetiwe Mathuthu.
“Clothes DO NOT RAPE people!! Alcohol DOES NOT RAPE people!!! Nights out DO NOT RAPE people!! RAPISTS RAPE PEOPLE!! ~ Rumbidzai Mapeto
The national statistics on rape against women, girls, children are shocking. Last year alone over 2,500 sexual abuse cases were recorded during the national lockdown. Childline estimates that at least one in three girls are survivors of abuse in Zimbabwe.
Earlier this year a case was recorded where a 12 year old girl was raped by a 26year old man on her way home after attending a New Year’s Eve party. In another case a 13 year old was raped on the 1st of January by a man believed to be 39 and is on the run.
In another case reported just recently, a 34 year old man was arrested for raping his 2 year old daughter.
These are just drops in a sea, there are so many cases of sexual abuse on children that we have read about this year alone and we are just in January!!!!! Many women, children and girls are trapped at home with their abusers. Homes are no longer a safe haven. Instead of home being a happy place for children it has become a place associated with pain and nightmares. Finding out your child has been sexually abused,as a parent, is distressing but in most cases people try to cover up such cases especially when the perpetrator is a family member. It is sickening because children run out of options to get assistance, which then results to abuse becoming a vicious cycle in which victims grow up to be perpetrators as well. These children suffer in silence, let down by people meant to protect them.
It is very necessary in Zimbabwe to create a culture of prevention of rape and child abuse. Perpetrators need to be punished severely. I personally think ruining a child’s life is worth life in prison.
It is sad that we live in a world where children cannot be children because of perverted adults.
We can raise awareness campaigns, urge parents and guardians to take responsibility of their children by monitoring everything to try and curb these heinous crimes, yet the problem has never been the children or the parents for not paying closer attention (or women for that matter) or where they play and what they wear. The problem has and will always be the grown men who molest and rape. Grown men who look at children and have the desire to be with them in a sexual way.
We as the community and our community leaders need to make it patently clear that child abuse or any kind of abuse will not be stomached, perpetrators need to be stopped.
Perpetrators should be given hefty sentences and the community should play a big role in exposing rape cases even when the perpetrators are family members. Protecting them doesn’t stop them from doing it again to more children if not the same child.
The survivors of abuse should be given free counseling sessions and support throughout the journey of recovery. Some of these kids become a shell of themselves even when they get counseling. Parents, guardians, and the community need to be persistent in offering the child support, love and showing the child it was not their fault.
“Silence on these issues shelters the perpetrators and is a crime” ~ Kavishe