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Child sexual abuse victims locked up in psychological prisons

By ALOIS VINGA

The side effects of abuse against children frequently result in mental problems, social exclusion, anger, self-blame, low self-esteem, intellectual paralysis and numerous other psychological disorders.

And violence and sexual abuse add their own traumatising effects on young minds, not to mention sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and early, unplanned pregnancies.Despite numerous laws protecting children’s rights, including the new Constitution, and the presence of child protection and welfare organisations established by the government and civil society, incidents of child abuse have become so prevalent that it has become a cause for serious concern in Zimbabwean society.According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police national statistics obtained through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, at least 5 000 children are abused annually with most of these being cases of sexual violence.

Sharp increase in sexual abuse cases From January to March of this year, a total 1 354 rape cases were reported with 946 of this total being girl child rape. An analysis of the 2013 statistics reveal that most offenders of child abuse are neighbours, uncles, cousins, fathers and stepfathers, and friends. Strangers figure to a much lesser extent than those who are already known to the child. Statistical records obtained from the child welfare civic watchdog, Childline, confirm there has been a 14% increase in sexual abuse cases, a 30% increase in physical abuse, and a 31% increase in neglect cases in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the first quarter of 2013…

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