CHILD abuse is not only a cancer to society, but also a headache to policymakers, who are constantly trying to come up with remedies for this problem.
First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has said rapists, particularly those who target minors, should get stiffer penalties to deter such abuse. She has urged women to report rape to police, even if their husbands are the perpetrators. The First Lady has also spoken strongly against child molesters.
In the same vein, many Zimbabweans, among them musicians, poets, writers and visual artistes, have been playing their part in trying to address the issue, making use of their creativity to spread awareness.
One such creative mind is South Africa-based writer Cathrene Magodo-Mutukwa, whose recently published novel “Broken Vessel”, explores some of the challenges that are faced by abused children.
Based on a true story, the book is centered on the life of a young girl, Vimbai, who suffers a string of horrendous episodes in her life. Despite being a bright, ambitious and determined child, Vimbai’s life is turned upside down when her father passes away while she is still in school. She has to move in with a relative, her aunt.
At her aunt’s place, she is subjected to numerous forms of abuse, including being raped by a man old enough to be her father at age 14 and to make matters worse, she is forced to marry her attacker.
Several years later, her daughter is also sexually abused by another family member and this is when she vows to seek justice.
Speaking to Beyond the Cover, the writer said she had been inspired to write the book after a conversation she had with someone who had been in that situation.
“Her story touched and wounded me and I could not just let it go so I put it in writing. Her experiences are echoes of pain and betrayal, lost dreams and a glimmer of hope.”
She said the book was meant to emphasise that the girl child also matters despite unfortunate circumstances that some of them come across.
“I wanted to highlight the abuse that is going on behind closed doors and how some people will try to keep it hidden, especially when a family member is the perpetrator. This novel seeks to address issues that include child marriages, gender based violence, girl child empowerment and education, among other things.”
The book has since been adapted into a film with production set to start this month. Magodo-Mutukwa, who has been writing for the past eight years, has previously published two other novels and three poetry anthologies.
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