Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
THE Government is seized with the increasing cases of child sexual abuse with measures being put in place to arrest the scourge through surveillance and conscientising communities, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima has said.
This follows the recent case involving a nine-year-old girl from Tsholotsho who gave birth to a baby girl via a Caesarean section last Monday. Last week, it was also reported that an eight-year-old girl from a farm in Bindura, Mashonaland Central, is six months pregnant.
The minor was allegedly raped and impregnated by two teenage brothers from the same farm. After conceiving following sexual abuse, the minor developed chronic constipation which her mother believed was due to early puberty.
Prof Mavima made the remarks during a visit to Sunrise Children’s Home in Binga on Friday after a joint monitoring visit with World Vision and Unicef. “When we see two cases being exposed in a short period it’s an issue of concern to us as the Government. Even one case of child abuse, especially where there’s violence or sexual abuse involved, it is one too many,” he said.
The minister said more needs to be done in terms of surveillance and conscientising communities to report such cases.
“We need to redouble efforts to make sure we identify, and better still, prevent cases of child abuse. We can’t afford to lose the potential the youngsters have for the development of this country and be robbed of their future,” said Prof Mavima.
He said two suspects involved in the two cases have since been arrested and are assisting police with investigations.
“I hear that there are two suspects that have been identified. There will be an investigation to determine who is responsible, and I know that the department of social welfare and our social development partners, working with law enforcement officers will be able to identify and bring to book those people responsible,” said Prof Mavima.
“Recent cases that have been headlining the news platforms are horrific and they show how deep the scourge of violence against children has gone. Violence against children negatively impacts on their well-being and affects their growth and development.”
Prof Mavima called on stakeholders involved in child rights to ensure that safe environments for children are created within communities.
“A child belongs to everyone hence child protection requires collective action. Let us not wait for the worst to happen, I urge the nation to properly report all cases of children at risk of abuse,” he said. We are committed as a ministry to lead in this vicious fight against perpetrators of child abuse.
“Communities should not hesitate to bring all suspected cases of abuse to the attention of relevant authorities such as police, community child care workers in every ward, district and provincial social welfare offices across the country,” said Prof Mavima.
Two weeks ago, Silindokuhle Sibanda (15) of Singukwe area in Gwanda District was fatally assaulted by her 31-year-old lover who had turned her into a bride.
The girl experienced sexual exploitation for over six years when she was abused by her uncle since the age of nine. The abuse came to light after Silindokuhle fell pregnant sometime last year before she suffered a miscarriage in December.
To escape the agony of being abused by her uncle, the deceased was married off to Thandazani Ncube.
Ncube fatally assaulted Silindokuhle accusing the girl of cheating on him. Silindokuhle stayed with her “husband” at Ncube’s parents’ homestead.
Minister Mavima was also briefed about the social protection programmes being implemented in Binga district such as the emergency social cash transfer (ESCT) project and the harmonised cash transfers.
The ESCT project was set up in August 2020 as relief in response to Covid-19 disruptions to reduce food insecurity, and improve dietary diversity and maternal and child health outcomes of vulnerable households.
The programme is primarily focused on households headed by the elderly aged 65 and above, pregnant women, child-headed families and persons living with disability.
Minister Mavima also handed over various food and grocery items to Sunrise and Kabwe children’s homes in Binga.
Earlier in the day, Prof Mavima and his delegation comprising Unicef, led by the deputy country representative Mr Zaineb Adams, World Vision Zimbabwe’s strategic evidence and learning director Ms Nomqhele Nyathi, visited various homes around the district.
Under the emergency social cash transfer project, 634 households in Binga District, which translated to 2 414 individuals are benefiting from the facility.
Bulawayo has 3 459 households, which translates to 18 472 beneficiaries. Each person in each household gets US$12, capped at a maximum of four per household.
On Thursday the monitoring exercise visited Lupane district in Matabeleland North province where the Unicef country representative Mr Tajudeen Oyewale and Ms Nyathi visited the area and beneficiaries.
In Lupane the project has 1 712 beneficiaries, where each receives a US$12 monthly cash transfer through a money transfer facility.
Article Source: The Chronicle