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Home no haven for girl child


Ranga lies in bed — a bed at a ward in Chitungwiza Hospital. She winces in pain as she slowly removes the sheeting wrapped around her left hand.
What is revealed underneath that cloth is shocking. It is a gory picture!
The hand is not only painful, but looks horribly septic. No medication has been applied to her injuries because her grandmother cannot afford the requisite medicine.
Ranga was abandoned by her mother when she was still a baby and her father passed on shortly afterwards.
When asked to explain what happened, she paused for a moment, her eyes scanning around the room in apparent fear.
“I’m OK. I’ll be fine,” Ranga said, her eyes wide open as if to reassure those standing around her bed that everything is under control.
Poria Chingodza, Ranga’s aunt, later chipped in and narrated how Ranga had sustained deep burns after her grandmother forced her to dip her hand into boiling water as punishment for stealing sweet potatoes a week before her hospitalisation.
“My grandmother placed a pot of sweet potatoes on the fire and forced Ranga to dip her hand into the boiling water,” Chingodza said.
One of the nurses attending to Ranga said there was urgent need to get some medication for her.
“These burns have to be treated with SSB cream,” he said.
“If they go for long without treatment, she’ll develop contractures, which will affect the functions of her joint.”
SSB cream costs between $7 and $10 in local pharmacies.
This is just one of the many cases of child abuse that are reported daily at Chitungwiza- based Girl Child Network (GCN).
GCN receives at least five reports of girlchild physical and sexual abuse every day, a matter that is of great concern.
Recently, GCN rescued a six-year-old girl who had been raped by her 29-year-old stepfather. The stepfather was allegedly caught red-handed.
The girl said her stepfather forced her to lick his private parts before raping her.
“The rape resulted in her being infected with a sexually- transmitted disease,” said the girl’s sobbing mother.
It later emerged that the man had sweet-talked the girl into the obscene act after promising her sweets and snacks.
The man is currently in police custody.
In yet another sad case, a 14-year-old teenager was forced into marriage when her paternal aunt, who stays with the girl in Zengeza 4, discovered a man had bought her a cellphone. In a rage of fury, the aunt immediately ordered the teenager out of the house and told her to go and live with the 28-year-old boyfriend. The girl’s mother made a report at GCN and they rescued the teenager from the man’s lodgings.
The girl tested negative for HIV, the virus that causes Aids, but like the two examples cited earlier, results revealed that she had been infected with a sexually-transmitted disease.
However, not all hope is lost for the abused girls.
“We are here to rescue and expose anyone who is out to abuse any child in whatever way,” said GCN Girls At Risk Support Unit coordinator Winnet Murinda.
“Girls are being raped in their homes and it is sad that when these cases eventually come to light, it would be too late as some would have contracted HIV and venereal diseases.
“I urge parents to listen and observe carefully what happens around the house.
“Children generally do not lie about rape,” she said.

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