No mercy to child rapists

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HOMES are supposed to provide safe shelter and protection for all children yet perpetrators of
sexual abuse of children and violence are found in the home.
On the other hand, churches are supposed to give spiritual guidance and protect children from any
form of violence but this is no longer the case as yet again children are not safe anymore in churches
as they are married off at a tender age while some are sexually abused too.
There is an alarming rise in the abuse of children. While some children report, others do not because
their parents fear stigmatisation and embarrassment especially where the perpetrator is a family
member.
Rape is a horrendous crime for anyone let alone a child. These innocent souls are trusting and look
to us adults for protection and yet we have of late been letting them down. No perpetrator should
be allowed to go scot free even if that person is the father, uncle, brother or whoever.
Two recent rape cases have shocked the nation.
A nine-year-old girl from Tsholotsho last week became the youngest mother in the country after
giving birth to a baby girl in Bulawayo. Hardly a few days later, two 17-year-old boys were arrested
for allegedly impregnating a nine-year-old girl in Bindura.
If the events in recent times are anything to go by, they should teach society of the need to by all
means protect children, especially the girl child from rape.
Let us be clear here. Rape is not a crime of passion but of power for how can a baby turn on an
adult. Rape brings not just physical harm but also emotional injury. It subjects its victims to a life of
trauma and stigmatisation; many victims have even been forced to commit suicide because they
could not heal.
The reality is that rape is committed by someone known to the victim. Children who live with single
parents who have live-in partners are at the highest risk.
Parents or guardians should protect their children from sexual predators and be on the lookout for
groomers who regularly give gifts as a way of trying to establish an emotional connection with a
child.
Children should be monitored on how they use their mobile phones. Access to internet can lead
children to the exposure of videos with adult or sexual content.
Sudden mood changes can be a sign that a child is groomed into sexual activities. Parents should
have open relationships with their children, offering a safe and nurturing space where they can
share their emotions. They should teach their children to talk freely to them about everything in
their lives. Communication is vital.
The parents should always monitor the children’s movements and engagements and report
immediately to Victim Friendly Units.

We urge the public to report all cases of abuse to the authorities – the police, schools and
community child care workers.

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