Story by Patience Nyagato
Child sexual exploitation and gender-based violence were topical at a men’s indaba held in Harare this Thursday where a pledge to protect the girl child was signed.
The indaba brought together men from different walks of life to try and find a lasting solution to the social ill.
Padare acting director, Dr Thando Makubaza said, “We want to bring men into the conversation of what has been happening. Men should begin to be part and parcel of the solution of the incidences to this menace happening in Zimbabwe.”
The call for stiffer penalties is universal.
“I think if they put life sentences for rape perpetrators it will help curb this menace. It’s very disheartening,” a participant at the meeting said.
Another echoed, “More should be done especially at police and courts. Sometimes we report cases of rape, but a few days later the perpetrators are seen walking free on the streets and it is sending the wrong message in society.”
Community leaders believe the solution to child sexual exploitation and gender-based violence lies within society.
Mberengwa East legislator, Honourable Marko Raidza said, “There is a general belief that our culture is bad, but I believe it was there to protect our children.”
“As community leaders, we have a mandate of raising awareness on the issues and make sure the message gets to the heart of the community so that people can report when they see such incidences,” noted Chief Goromonzi Chikwaka.
The indaba comes at a time the country is commemorating 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based violence, while a campaign dubbed Men United against Child Sexual Abuse and Bender Based Violence was launched at the same event.