Wednesday, August 02, 2006

UNICEF shocked and outraged at latest case of child rape in Zimbabwe

UN News Centre Home:

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has “condemned in the strongest possible terms” news of more horrific sexual child abuse cases in Zimbabwe while urging new measures to protect the country’s youngsters and provide more general education about HIV and AIDS.

Responding to a recent news report that a Ruya high school teacher raped and infected with HIV a six-year-old girl, UNICEF said the case should shock all Zimbabweans into action.

The newspaper The Herald reported that the magistrate presiding over the case, who sentenced the teacher to 17 years jail, “made it clear that [the rapist] raped the girl hoping to heal his sexually transmitted diseases.”

UNICEF’s Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Festo Kavishe said, “It is sickening to hear that in 2006 we still have cases where people believe their sexually transmitted diseases can be ‘cured’ by having sex with [in this case raping] a virgin. This is the most repulsive of myths. It needs to be exposed by every community in every corner of the country.”

In two additional cases, also reported in Monday’s Herald, a 22-year-old man has been charged with raping his seven-year-old twin sisters, while a 76-year-old man has been charged with sexual assault after he allegedly abused an 11-year-old girl.

“Much more needs to be done to combat child abuse in Zimbabwe,” said Mr. Kavishe, “and importantly to educate Zimbabweans on HIV and all sexually transmitted diseases, and on the long-term psychological impact of rape on children.”

Earlier this year UNICEF again expressed its horror at the continued sexual abuse of children in Zimbabwe, most of them primary school pupils, by those in trusted positions. It noted that anecdotal evidence from local NGOs and clinics around Harare show child sexual abuse is rampant. Last year alone, a local NGO recorded 4,146 cases of sexual abuse against children in its area of operation alone.

This means 11 children were sexually abused every day of last year,” said Mr. Kavishe, “and these are only the cases reported. This should be a cause for national outrage and every citizen must make it their duty to stamp out this evil afflicting Zimbabwe’s children.”

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