A senior government official has revealed that as many as 124 girls were sexually abused within 12 days last month.
Report by Veneranda Langa, Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Lancester Museka, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Services, also disclosed that about 9% of girls aged between 13 and 17 in the country and 2% of boys in the same age group were sexually abused last year.
“According to the National Baseline Survey on Life Experiences of Adolescents, 9% of girls aged 13 to 17 and 2% of boys in the same age range were sexually abused and this points to a decline in societal moral standards which has exposed our children to various forms of abuse,” said Museka.
“Print and electronic media reports indicate that 124 girls were sexually abused within 12 days of this month of September 2012, and we should facilitate the development of a safe conducive and child-friendly environment in which children can grow free from abuse,” Museka said.
He made the disclosures during commemorations of the International Day of the Girl Child in Harare on Thursday.
The commemorations were organised by advocacy group Plan Zimbabwe under the theme Because I am a Girl, which covered issues of sexual abuse and other social, cultural, educational and financial challenges faced by the girl child.
Participants discussed legislation and protocols that protect girl children.
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association director Emilia Muchawa attributed most of the abuses to religious and cultural practices that promoted child marriages.
“Zimbabwe is among the top list of countries practicing child marriages. Topping the list is Malawi and Mozambique at 52%, Zambia at 42%, Lesotho at 39%, Tanzania at 37% and Zimbabwe at 30%. We should not say because we have all these countries ahead of us, we are better off.
We are in the trend of the worst and what it means is it is cause for concern,” she said.
Muchawa said 16,3% of Zimbabwean women were married off at the age of 15 and the biggest culprits were parents.
“They (girl children) end up dying of pregnancy-related complications, face abuse by their older husbands, and some end up committing infanticide or suicide,” she said.