By Lisa Masuku
It was an emotional moment for a nine-year-old pregnant girl from Tsholotsho, when the First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa visited her this Saturday at a safe house in Bulawayo where she is being kept for monitoring by a team of health experts.
The emotionally distraught girl, who is a victim of child sexual exploitation, is expected to deliver her baby in a few weeks by a Caesarean Section at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH).
From weeping to relief and excitement, all kinds of emotions engulfed the nine-year-old pregnant girl as she embraced the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa who visited her in Bulawayo this Saturday with groceries as well as clothes for her and the baby she is carrying.
Even without saying a word, the Tsholotsho girl visibly bared all her challenges to the First Lady through an embrace that meant a lot to her.
It was even more heart-rending when she burst into tears as her mother narrated to the First Lady the anguish of seeing her baby in such a disturbing condition.
“It is very painful to see my daughter in this condition, seeing her today brought all the emotions and she was so happy to see me. She hugged me. When I found out that she was pregnant I was so dejected, it broke my heart. I don’t even know what to do. I just want the person who did this to be caught and pay the price of doing such an evil act to my child,” said the mother of the 9-year-old girl.
After seeing her go through an emotional breakdown to being carefree and playing with her doll like any other nine-year-old, Dr Mnangagwa expressed hope for justice to prevail and for the law to take its course.
With mothers being their children’s first friends, the First Lady also pleaded with women to be their children’s protectors in wake of increasing cases of child sexual exploitation.
“I came to see this baby as a mother and as a grandmother. When I first heard her story I could not believe it because of her age, but I have seen it with my eyes it is true it’s there, and it’s real. As it is she is eight months pregnant.
“It really broke my heart and it’s shocking and unbelievable. The law should protect us as women. As women, we do not take the law into our own hands but we expect the law to protect us and even the courts to help us with such matters. Now is the time for us to unite and fight for our families and ensure justice is served for the little girl.
“I always say as women we should know our kids. These days you just cannot trust anyone with your kids from the dad to the brother. Let’s monitor the well-being of our kids,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
Psychoanalyst, Ms Nombulelo Croco, said it was heart-warming to see the child opening up to the First Lady as she lamented the prevalence of cases of child sexual exploitation within the family setup.
“I have been looking after the little girl. This is what we call childhood trauma. It is something that stays with you for life. When a child has been exposed to such, she is likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Intervening at this point is critical in managing mental health-related issues. It is not trauma only for the individual, it’s something that affects the family and the community as well. My advice to parents is that sexual assault normally happens in the family. Look out for changes in the baby know your child so that you can pick up such things,” she said.
Chief Gambu from Tsholotsho South where the girl hails from, extended an appreciation to Amai Mnangagwa while describing the bizarre incident as unacceptable both in the African and Christian cultures.
“What happened to the little girl is taboo both in the African and Christian cultures. We need to work together as a nation in fighting this,” he said.
United Bulawayo Hospitals Acting Clinical Director, Dr Harrison Rambanapasi gave an update on the girl’s management by health experts.
“The girl is now 37 weeks pregnant. She and the baby are fine and we are currently planning delivery in the next few weeks,” he said.
Child sexual exploitation cases have been on the increase of late, with stakeholders calling for serious attention to be given to the issue if the nation is to win the war against the vice.