the government has revealed that it is handling more than 945 cases of sexual abuse monthly, with minors being most of the victims.
BY MUNESU NYAKUDYA
“I am reliably informed that at district level, on average, monthly, 15 new cases, mainly of child survivors, are attended to,” Health deputy minister Aldrin Musiiwa said in Harare yesterday at the launch of guidelines for people affected by sexual violence.
“There are 63 districts, meaning that monthly, 945 new cases are attended to. Note, this is exclusive of the five provincial hospitals, the five central hospitals and city health institutions.
“Though the increasing numbers could be an indicator of increased awareness rising and empowerment of children and communities to report incidents of sexual violence, this is quite worrisome.
“The question is what percentage of these survivors report within the 72 hours of the incident? The major focus within the guidelines is around the 72 hours in view of minimising chances of contracting HIV, STIs and protection from pregnancy.”
The deputy minister said there was need to strengthen co-ordination of the multi-sectoral approach to effectively assist and timeously refer survivors to health service providers.
“It is crucial that when a survivor reports to the health institution first, without a police report, the survivor should never be denied access to health intervention. This is in the best interest of the survivor’s health and not to lose them within the recommended 72 hours,” Musiiwa said.
He described the guidelines as useful for healthcare practitioners to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence receive a standard level of care when they present themselves to a healthcare facility. This will also enable them to be referred to the appropriate health care centre in time for them to receive further management and support if needed.
“With this service available, I appeal to the communities to put health institutions into effect and clients to report within 72 hours of having been sexually abused, to allow for relevant treatment to be administered,” Musiiwa said.