BY NHAU MANGIRAZI THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Child Care, HIV and Aids focusing on the Medical Services Amendment Bill last week came face-to-face with the rising cases of rape and gender-based violence in Tengwe, Hurungwe district, Mashonaland West province.
In Hurungwe district, statistics show that nearly 50% of women have suffered either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, with one in three having experienced physical or sexual violence before reaching 18 years.
Current statistics on rape, teen pregnancies and forced marriages in the district are not readily available to government departments.
The community is quite unhappy about how young girls are being forced to drop out of school due to child marriages and rape, while perpetrators enjoy freedom soon after getting bail at the courts.
Elizabeth Mawoneke, a community member in Tengwe said women were being exposed to sexual abuse, rape and gender-based violence on a daily basis.
“Rape and sexual abuse cases are rife in the farming area of Tengwe. It is affecting young girls, women and boys. Women get beaten daily. Even when the cases are reported to the police and men are given counselling, nothing is coming out. Police must arrest gender-based violence perpetrators. The world can be a better place,’’ Mawoneke said.
When acting committee chairperson Goodluck Kwaramba sought clarification on gender-based violence allegations Mawoneke said some victims were maimed.
“Most women are suffering in silence and cannot run away due to old age. Some women are in marriages to look after children left behind by relatives who passed on due to HIV and Aids,”Mawoneke added.
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She suggested that the government should intensify awareness campaigns against gender-based violence.
Advocacy Core Team representative Diana Mailosi suggested that the Medical Services Bill should include sexual abuse, rape and gender-based violence under Emergency Treatment.
“The issues of rape, sexual abuse and gender-based abuse are part of the broader impact on our health. We need to ensure that access to medication is catered for and we appeal to have HIV and pregnancy prevention as part of the issues to be considered,” Mailosi said.
Hurungwe East junior Member of Parliament Makanaka Makoshori noted that some girls were forced out of school due to early pregnancies.
“Young people are exposed to such activities as prostitution, among others. Action must be taken to ensure that access to medication is available,” Makoshori said.
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