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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Child rights organisations speak on untold stories of sexual abuse of minors

Story by Theophilus Chuma, Investigative Editor

Shocking incidents of pregnant minors have triggered discussions on hidden gaps within communities that are seriously exposing children to sexual abuse.

Innocently they play, oblivious to the danger that lurks within their communities.

The shocking incidents of two minors impregnated at age 8 and 9, have left a deep scar on the dignity of the girl child, at the same time setting off a social inquest on discreet behaviours that expose the girl child.

Katswe Sisterhood Programme Manager, Ms Debra Mwatse said, “We have seen the worst of abuse being perpetrated against the girl child and this raises questions on morality and how this has been plunged into the deep end. These abuses are happening right within the homestead and what this means is there may be some cases that go unreported. Even more worrying is that this violence is being perpetrated by minors on minors and we need to critically look into these developments to ensure that we address them and prevent further damage to these girls.”

For three consecutive years, screaming headlines of abuse have been recorded in the country.

In 2021, 14-year-old Anna Machaya was impregnated and died giving birth at a shrine.

Stories of two other girls who are even younger dominated the media space this year.

“Beyond the 16 days of activism, I believe we need to perpetuate discussions around the protection of the girl child. In some communities, we fear there are some behaviours which appear to promote abuse and these sadly are happening with the family setup,” said Ms Ekenia Chifamba, Shamwari yeMwanasikana executive director.

While the law has stiffened against perpetrators stipulating a 15-year jail term for offenders, experts believe the same sentence should be applied to those that groom minors into sexual exploitation.

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