A national shame

HARARE - The unacceptable high incidence of gender-based violence in Zimbabwe, including the utterly despicable rape of girl children, is a huge indictment on our society and men in particular.

Yesterday, the Daily News carried a heart-rending front page story in which Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development minister Oppah Muchinguri revealed shocking figures about the extent of the rape of children below the age of 16 in our country.

The grim statistics show that nearly 5 000 girls are raped every year, with very few of the beastly attackers arrested, let alone convicted.

Even more jarring, senior police officers believe, with good reason, that the actual numbers of children raped every year is far higher than those officially recorded by authorities because many children or their parents and guardians are either coerced by perpetrators and family members from taking the cases forward, or are unwilling to report the heinous crimes for a number of reasons including social ones.

Add to this tragic cocktail the fact that many of the girls who are raped suffer these barbaric crimes at the hands of their own relatives, or at the instigation of rogue traditional healers who primitively mislead their clients to believe that they will be cured of deadly diseases such as HIV/Aids if they sleep with virgins or that their businesses will suddenly thrive if they rape toddlers, then the urgency to stem this national shame becomes obvious.

Muchinguri said one way of remedying these abuses includes government heightening its messages to would-be offenders so that they fully internalise that they will not get away with the abuses.

Included in this endeavour would be minimum jail sentences of 30 years.

She also, correctly implored parents and guardians to take greater care of their children and to, particularly, keep communication lines open with their young ones to protect them.

While all these things will help mitigate the untenable situation, we believe that ultimately the problem goes beyond government and parents, and that it has got to be viewed as an emergency societal issue, involving each and every Zimbabwean.

Until that realisation is achieved, our children and our country are on a hiding to nothing, as often the real progress of a nation is aptly judged by the way it takes care of its vulnerable members, including children, girls, women and the disabled.

Indeed, if all good citizens of this beautiful country abdicate this national responsibility, our country will not only become a jungle society one reads about only in newspapers, but the next victims of these marauding beasts may well be your child, sister or mother — just to bring the message home.

It’s now time for all Zimbabweans, particularly men, to say NOT in our names and in our country.

Comments (2)

I think everyone has a role to play regarding this issue of rape . Today housemaids are good rapists in our society . If we implement what was proposed in parliament that we should cut off the male organ what about women rapists how are raping young boys who do not even know what sex is at that tender age? law must be applied equally without discrimination.

WATYOKA T . S. - 20 May 2014

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ORIGINAL - 21 May 2014

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