Public and the police should work together in flushing out perpetrators of sexual abuse

STATISTICS released this week on cases of sexual abuse should push communities into finding urgent solutions to the crime that leaves lifelong trauma on victims.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) reported that a total of 3 562 cases of sexual violence were recorded between January and March this year, with most of the perpetrators being close to the victims.

This is quite alarming and we call upon members of the public and the police to work together in flushing out perpetrators of sexual abuse.
We also urge families to report perpetrators of sexual abuse and not protect them as that is not only against the law but worsens the trauma on victims.

National police spokesperson, Commissioner Paul Nyathi expressed concern that some of the sexual violence cases are within families, leading to attempts to cover up the crimes.

“Some of the sexual violence cases are committed by trusted individuals to their victims. This could be fathers and others who are close to the victims.

“In some of these situations, people try to sweep the cases under the carpet. In doing so, the perpetrator is given leeway to continuously abuse the victim,” said Comm Nyathi.

He warned children against walking past bushy areas, especially when travelling to and from school as some of the rapists target them in such areas.
Local medical doctor, Dr Misheck Ruwende, also said most of the victims that report to health institutions are those close to perpetrators leading to delays in medical attention and interventions.

“Usually the young girls are the victims and the perpetrators are usually the relatives. Rarely do we get cases where strangers are the perpetrators,” said Dr Ruwende.

“It’s usually people who are around that particular victim. As a result, relatives, friends and family members, always make deliberations on whether they must go to the hospital and this delays what we can do medically to assist the victim.

“We only have 72 hours medically where we can intervene when someone is sexually abused or raped. We only have 72 hours of preventing HIV and 72 hours of preventing an unwanted pregnancy.

“These are life-changing conditions in someone’s life. So within 72 hours at least we can prevent pregnancy, we can prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.”

Gender activist Ms Babongile Gora said most sexual violence is committed against teenagers by those close to them who sexually groom them before physically abusing them.

She also called for early detection and reportage of sexual abuse cases through open discussions within families and schools.

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