Members of Parliament are not doing enough to fight rampant cases of sexual abuse and rape of women and children, a women’s pressure group has said.
Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation Trust director Rita Marque Mbatha said in an interview on Tuesday that parliamentarians as esteemed members of society could contribute positively in the fight against abuse of women and children.
Some such “esteemed” members of society, including MPs, have however been accused of sexual violence.
The call comes at a time when the nation prepares to mark 16 Days of Activism, a United Nations annual campaign aimed at eradicating abuse against women and children which is observed between November 25 and December 10.
For the period between June 2009 and June 2010, Mbatha said, the trust had dealt with 2 520 rape cases, 1 247 sexual harassment cases and 1 825 cases involving domestic violence.
“Their (MPs) leadership and commitment to end child abuse will lead to a reduction of sexual abuse and expansion of victim services,” she said.
“However more can be and should be done to provide communities with resources and support needed to address this serious threat and reorient our systems and services towards prevention (of sexual abuse) and Parliament should lead the way.”
During the 16 Days of Activism, Mbatha said, the organisation would highlight links between HIV and Aids and rape.
“As part of rape prevention strategies we are lobbying the Ministry of Education to ban the practice by teachers in rural areas of using schoolchildren to do their household chores,” she said.
She said as part of their efforts to keep the issue of sexual abuse of children on the agenda, the organisation would soon stage a demonstration march to Parliament.
“We consider Members of Parliament as indispensable partners. Lawmakers can make a difference,” said Mbatha.
The organisation campaigns against sexual violence and harassment as well as discrimination against women and children by encouraging legal reforms that would see perpetrators brought to book.