VILLAGERS in Kachechete Ward outside Victoria Falls have called for a law that compels health centres not to register pregnant minor girls for pre-natal services without a police report.
They said that will help account for all sexual abuse perpetrators especially considering that many such cases were not reported as families protect abusers or immediately marry off minor girls once they get pregnant.
Kachechete villagers under Chief Mvuthu said abuse of girls was prevalent in their community but many cases were not reported because of various reasons including fear among community members, families deciding to marry off the girl despite being below 18 years of age, and that many protect each other as neighbours and relatives.
Fight drug abuse
Speaking at a community development meeting that was organised to create a platform for the police, traditional leaders, community and other stakeholders to discuss challenges facing the area at BH36 Primary School, villagers said cases of abuse and marrying off young girls and abuse of drugs were prevalent but are not being reported in their area.
The villagers said there was a need to resuscitate child protection committees in every village to monitor, track and report crimes against children. They said some common practices such as leaving children unattended, sending them to buy beer or cigarettes, allowing children to dress inappropriately, families protecting perpetrators were the major causes of child abuse.
“Our biggest challenge here is that children who are supposed to be in school are being abused and some get pregnant. Once they get pregnant what worries us most is that families take them to clinics before even notifying child protection committees and traditional leaders. So health officials attend to these cases until the pregnancy is visible and the girl gives birth or the worst happens because of their age. We wonder if there is no law to address such things because we know that if people fight today, the victim is not treated without a police report. So we are saying can we have a law that requires such victims to have police reports before they get registered for pre-natal services,”said BH34 village head Mr Yangi Vundla.
Another villager, Mrs Regina Mhlanga said there are many sexual abuse and domestic violence cases that are not being reported. Mr Lungisani Weza concurred saying some of the girls are abused by stepfathers and the cases are not reported because the mother would want to protect her marriage.
—Sunday Mail Zimbabwe