Villagers bemoan sexual abuse of girls with disabilities

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

VILLAGERS in the Chiwundura area, Midlands, have expressed concern over the increasing cases of sexual abuse of girls with disabilities.

In separate interviews with Southern Eye recently, the villagers said some girls with disabilities were being raped by men who believed sleeping with a disabled person would cure them of chronic ailments such as HIV.

“We have a problem of some elderly men who believe that sleeping with disabled girls would cure them of HIV,” Gambiza-Chiwundura ward 10 councillor Rester Muswere said.

“Although I cannot give the exact figures at the moment, there are, however, reported cases of disabled girls being raped.”

Village head Netsai Mutengwa concurred, adding that artisanal miners were also leading in the raping of girls with disabilities.

“We have reported cases of disabled girls being raped by gold panners,” she said.

“The girls are usually raped while going or coming from school and this is a cause for concern to us.”

A police officer at Muchakata Police Station, who could not be named for professional reasons, said over the past few months, they had received several such reports.

He said, in most cases, the girls were raped by people they know and that although they have arrested a number of perpetrators, with some of the cases going unreported because families do not report perpetrators to protect their relatives.

Chairperson for people with disabilities in ward 10 and 11, Shingairai Juru said his committee was educating villagers on the rights of children with disabilities.

“We try by all means to educate people on the rights of children with disabilities, particularly on the need to report cases of sexual abuse,” he said.

“We face a problem of family members who do not report rape of disabled girls within the family, but once we get information on such cases, we go straight to the police to report. We also have a problem of illegal gold miners who prey on disabled school pupils.”

Research has suggested that women with disabilities are more likely to experience sexual assault than women without disabilities, and that they are usually abused by someone they know, such as a partner or family member.

Although acting Midlands provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende could not be reached for comment, she recently said cases of sexual abuse against juveniles were on the increase in the province.

Last year, police arrested a machete-wielding rapist from Shurugwi who had grown a habit of preying on pupils.

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