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Report on the gravity of girl child sexual abuse in Zimbabwe
Girl Child Network
May 17, 2005

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Facts and figures on girl child sexual abuse in the home, school and community point out to Increased reporting on unreported rape cases than increased fresh raping
GCN conducted a gender based violence desk study against girls stretching from 1998 Ė2004. The results of the nature and extent of child sexual abuse are shamefully shocking. They used rape, incest, and virginity testing and forced marriages as the different variables of child sexual abuse. GCN is receiving an average of 6 rape cases per day as from January 2005 up from 3 cases per day in 2004. The media almost on a daily basis report on child sexual abuse. These staggering statistics exclude the many children out there who are being sexual abused but not reporting for various reasons.

The table below shows cases of girl child sexual abuse physically and directly attended by GCN.

Form of abuse Rape

Forced marriages

Virginity testing Incest Total no. of cases
1998 500

 

 

125 625
1999 1500

 

 

435 1935
2000 1300 5 - 390 1695
2001 950

45

2000 105 3100
2002 1700 10 5000 480 6815
2003 1050 6

 

455 1511
2004 3000 4

 

940 3944
Total 10000 70 7000 2930 20000
  • Out of the 20 000 child sexual abuse cases in the diagram only 5 % were fresh cases reported at least within 3 to 7 days. GCN`s analysis shows that there is increased reporting on unreported rape cases owing to media coverage and sensitisation programmes around child abuse in general and girl child sexual abuse in particular by various stakeholders. There are 350 girls clubs positioned strategically throughout Zimbabwe.
  • Most rape cases that resulted in pregnancy were settled out of court even though they involved minors aged 16 and below. Such cases posed a lot of challenges even up to now as GCN tries to unearth for example, the Marondera school girls case impregnated by a well known doctor cum politician in the town .Similar cases were reported in other areas like Mazowe.
  • Child sexual abuse cases where girls under 13 years got married and such marriages endorsed by church elders were unearthed several years later when death was imminent due to complications associated with pregnancy.
  • The virgins cure HIV and AIDS and virgins make businesses thrive myth is rampant and the Hwange case of a girl raped by her own father from grade four to form four is a clear example of the so many daughters who suffer within family circles for years.
  • The father as a bread winner factor has perpetuated a culture of silence on rape within families and in most instances this comes out when the girl becomes terminally ill.
  • School heads and teachers, general hand staff to include security guards, caretakers, drivers, boarding masters and matrons, bursars etc were not reported on at all because of their command of authority in the schools. Though so many cases of rape surface now from the schools and still we paid lip service to this menace there are many living examples of women whose lives were destroyed by rape within the school system. Clear examples include two Seke schools, Chishawasha, Hwange, Nyanga, where a form two girl raped was by a teacher at Bonda Girls High School, and another teacher is right now paying a settlement of $800 000 to family members at Mbaza School in Mutasa District, St Johnís Primary School in Murewa left a well known paedophile in the school system after he allegedly raped a grade six girl. Many more girls who go to fetch water, clean teachersí houses and are trusted to any household chores are turned into sex slaves. If only suggestion boxes would be put in every school and an independent enquiry conducted in every school the stories would be most shocking. Macheke case is a tip of the iceberg. In Domboshava GCN unearthed one case of a trainee teacher linked to people in influential positions who sexually abused girls. The price we had to pay was to be permanently banned from entering Domboshava and this further protected the perpetrators we feel are even more from what we heard from the girls themselves. The current system in education that restricts girls from creating a platform to meet and open up on sexual abuse is a big hindrance. The school system is harbouring a lot of paedophiles and even a lot of women of our age from long back have suffered in the same system and though we expected Macheke girls to open up earlier none of us has dared to do so even though we are out of the system.
  • Most women are going through domestic violence and they are economically dependent on men. No one wants the breadwinner to go to jail.
  • Some churches have informal schools on early marriages. Johane Marange is but one such where girls who upon virginity testing are found to be non virgins are labelled "dirty and unclean" and this is justification to be married and raped.
  • Trafficking of girls in brothels is quite rampant due to some economic challenges the country is facing. Some young girls on a daily basis are trafficked from schools to brothels and some of the owners of the brothels instil so much fear in the girls that they will never open. Harare is infested with brothels for school girls under the guise of lodges.
  • Little babies cannot report child sexual abuse. They are in the category of those who are physically and mentally challenged. A lot more girls are dumb and use sign language. With babies and those who are handicapped their very survival depends on us since their communication is close to none. Child sexual abuse is rampant amongst them. In Rusape at least ten men raped one mentally disturbed girl in 2003. A lot more babies are made to suck male organs and 1 in 10 parents gets to know this. In one case in 2003 a baby vomited out semen.
Reasons why rape cases are not reported immediately
As GCN we safely concluded that there is increased reporting of girl child sexual abuse. There are a lot of reasons why girls do not immediately report which should be the focus of any meaningful and effective intervention
  • During the rape act girls are threatened with death or a knife or any dangerous weapon
  • Little girls are often given sweets or cash and this silences them
  • There are indirect perpetrators like mothers, aunts, church elders who go for out of court settlements. The law is not clear on such perpetrators
  • Most girls do not fall pregnant and therefore to just open up on such abuse may not be an emergency and it can result in further victimization. The home is not victim child friendly
  • In the school system the boys, male teachers and school heads are symbols of male dominance and power-situations women are enslaved to.
  • There is false promise of marriages and compensation for damages to parents.

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