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of sexual abuse are trivialised
Mbanje, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
November 24, 2013
Cases of young
girls who are being sexually abused even by the very people who
are supposed to guard and watch over them are a cause of concern
to gender experts and officials.
They said law
enforcement agencies and the judiciary are not doing enough to protect
the victims, accusing them of trivialising cases of sexual abuse.
This came out
last week at a female legislators women’s conference on taking
leadership in ending rape and sexual violence on the eve of the
16 days of activism against gender violence.
The story of
Sipho (17) brought tears to female legislators.
Her cries for
help went unheeded, her flailing arms were viciously pinned to her
sides and helplessly she watched as the man she called uncle brutally
raped her, robbing her of her innocence.
ended in a pregnancy which is a constant reminder for the teenager
whose dream of pursuing her education has been shattered.
keep the baby. Keeping it will be a constant reminder of the violent
act and what will I say when questions of how conception took place
are raised later on,” she said.
As Sipho bravely
narrated her ordeal at the hands of a trusted relative, the stark
reality of the deeper and damaging effects of this social scourge
were laid bare.
Chipo also took to the podium. Because of her age and evident bulging
stomach, she struggled to maintain composure. Her innocent face
was at loggerheads with the heaving stomach and like Sipho, it was
the product of rape.
my neighbour whom I had known for years. He tore my clothes and
raped me. What hurts the most is that for destroying my life, he
only served six months. I do not want this baby,” she said
in between sobs.
The last to
testify was 18-year-old Rudo who was raped by her employer who has
since been acquitted.
that the judiciary system has let me down because not only was I
violated in the most despicable manner, but I now have no job and
cannot support my ailing mother and my young child,” she said.
All three teenagers
are currently housed at a shelter provided by the Musasa
Gender and Community Development minister, Oppah Muchinguri expressed
dissatisfaction with the judicial system.
with concern that the current sentences being handed down to the
perpetrators for rape and sexual violence are not deterrent enough,”
“As legislators, move motions in parliament that will compel
magistrates to give mandatory sentences of all cases involving rape
and sexual abuse,” she said.
to Zimbabwe, Deborah Bronnert said it was inspiring to see MPs from
across the political divide uniting for a common cause.
we are from, whatever political views we hold, we all have a responsibility
to see how we can work together globally and locally to act against
sexual violence,” she said, adding that a strong political
commitment was needed.
of Musasa Project Netty Musanhu said her organisation’s shelter
for abused women and girls was overflowing, a clear sign that the
problem was very real and was on the rise.
girls who testified today are currently in our care but they need
a lot of support and are currently being counselled but it is a
long hard road,” said Musanhu.
violence is a social scourge
said gender-based violence was a social scourge that needed collective
Adding her voice
to the stand against keeping quiet about sexual abuse, the director
of The Women’s
Trust (TWT) Memory Kachambwa said police and the courts trivialise
reports and perpetrators go free.
women to speak out against violence.
are like lambs going to the slaughter. None of them cry out and
in their silence allow predatory males to continue to prey on them,”
of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, Monica Mutsvangwa called
for synergies between the legislators and development partners in
addressing rape and sexual violence.
a welcome development and as legislators across the political divide,
let’s push and promote gender equality.”
She also spoke
on marital rape which she termed “intimate violence”.
woman says no to the husband sometimes it is because she has noticed
some symptoms of sexually transmitted infections and just wants
to be safe,” she said.
sought to equip female legislators to be advocates against rape
and sexual violence and provide a platform for them to come up with
strategies on zero tolerance in their constituencies.
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