Deaf Zimbabwe Trust joins fight against sexual abuse


Harare (New Ziana) –Members of the public who sexually abuse persons with intellectual disabilities should not think that they will always get away with it, as some of the victims are able to bring the matter to light and to identify the perpetrators.

The Deaf Zimbabwe Trust said this on Tuesday as part of its messages for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence campaign.

DZT legal officer Isaac Mwale told New Ziana that in April this year they handled a case of a 26-year-old woman from Sadza area of Chivhu, Mashonaland East province who has an intellectual disability, who caused the arrest of eight perpetrators who had raped her on different occasions.

Mwale said the woman was able to find ways of bringing the matter to light, resulting in the perpetrators being arrested and brought to justice.

“Perpetrators of SGBV often assume that women and girls with intellectual disabilities can never report cases because they will not be able to testify due their disability. That is not always the case,” he said.

He said the DZT operates a department that offers legal support mainly to women and young girls who would have fallen victim violent sexual crimes.

“This lady the matter was brought to us around April. They could not understand what she was saying, and the matter was referred to us,” he said.

The people who raped the woman thought that she was deaf and yet she was hard of hearing, Mwale said.

“She had low hearing, but the issue was not hearing impairment per se, it was an intellectual issue. She had trouble comprehending information when spoken to. She did not recall the dates and time, but she was able to recall the violent events the way they happened,” he said.

Mwale said the matter first came out through her husband who thought she was trying to tell her that she was pregnant.

After the woman kept bringing up the matter the husband later understood what she was telling him, and when it emerged that one of the people was his friend, he chucked her from the house, and she went back to stay with her mother.

“They took her to the police who asked her if she knew the people who did that, lucky enough she was able to identify them. They were all village members, and she could recall like how many times, when, where and how it happened. Unfortunately, it could be more than eight times and these men were taking advantage of her intellectual disability thinking she will never recall what happened.”

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

It was started by activists at the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and it continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.

The campaign is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
New Ziana

Comments are closed.