The statistics that we are being given are shocking to say the least. Our homes are slowly turning into horror zones instead of comfort zones as our daughters are being raped by our relatives, neighbours and sometimes even by their own fathers. Spouses are battering each other day after day in a disturbing fashion as domestic violence becomes entrenched in our homes.
Speaking at a police crime awareness campaign in Bulawayo last Friday, the national coordinator of the Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) Assistant Commissioner Isabella Sergio gave statistics that should leave us with a chill.
Asst Comm Sergio said it was worrying that children continued to bear the brunt of sexual offences.
She said out of 4 199 rape cases reported in 2012, about 2 599, that is 70 percent of the cases, were perpetrated against children.
In 2011, 4 222 rape cases were reported and 3 003 of these cases were against children, according to the statistics revealed by Asst Comm Sergio.
The statistics serve to confirm the 2012 preliminary findings by the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstat) and the United Children’s Fund (Unicef).
The preliminary findings revealed that one in three girls is raped or sexually assaulted before she turns 18 while more than 60 percent of boys endure extreme physical punishment and abuse. The Zimstat/Unicef preliminary report showed that of the child abuse cases, rape constituted the highest percentage of reported abuse.
According to police the trend of rising sexual abuse and domestic violence has been like that in the past two years.
Police said relatives and neighbours perpetrated the majority of rape cases, while domestic violence has been linked to increased use of technology like cellphones and social networks that include Facebook and Twitter.
Asst Comm Sergio said the rapists are usually known to the victims and in some cases they are close relatives like fathers, stepfathers, uncles, brothers and cousins. That is appalling because these are the very people who should be offering protection to our girl child.
A breakdown of the reported rape cases so far shows that 41 percent were perpetrated by neighbours and 27 percent by relatives.
Parents and guardians should heed Asst Comm Sergio’s call that they should be wary of who they leave their children with.
Increased supervision of children is definitely a must while educating them about sexual abuse and how to prevent it happening to them is also key.
Domestic violence cases are said to have increased by eight percent, between 2011 and last year.
In 2011, 10 351 domestic violence cases were reported compared to 12 085 in 2012.
Murder as a result of domestic violence also continues to rise.
Asst Comm Sergio said the link between domestic violence and technology had become very significant as a number of cases emanated from invasion of privacy, particularly through cellphones and e-mails.
She said altercations over infidelity and misuse of family income were also major sources of domestic violence.
We commend the police for launching the awareness campaign against rape and domestic violence. Solutions can be found to deal with these scourges but this requires unity of purpose among all stakeholders in the country from parents, school authorities, law enforcement agencies, the church, Government and our communities at large.
We could not agree more with Asst Comm Sergio when she said: “Domestic violence and rape are problems with a solution and the solution lies with you and me. The police would like to urge everyone to be part of the campaign against sexual abuse and domestic violence through making sure it does not happen and when it does, bringing to our attention all cases or suspected cases of sexual and domestic violence.”