Debra Matabvu – Sunday Mail Reporter
At least one child is raped every three hours in Zimbabwe, with indications that child sexual abuse cases continue to increase despite harsh penalties meted out against perpetrators.
Police statistics released by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development reveal that at least eight children under 15 years old are sexually abused daily.
Experts say myths around the monetary and curing benefits of engaging in sexual intercourse with minors and allowing adults to share bedrooms with children are among the factors fuelling the abuse.
Latest figures show that 1 082 children have been abused in Manicaland since 2012 and 994 in the Midlands.
A total of 946 children were raped countrywide in the first four months of 2014, a 14 percent increase from 2013.
The statistics also show that victims, especially girls between the ages of seven and 15, were likely to be raped by men aged between 20 and 60 years.
More than 2 400 children under the age of 18 were raped between January and October 2013.
Fathers, grandfathers, neighbours and domestic workers constituted 62 percent of perpetrators, while strangers made up the remaining percentage.
The figures, however, show a 73 percent decline in adult rape cases with 408 women having fallen victim in the first quarter of 2014 against the 1 567 recorded during the same period last year.
Global prevalence of child sexual abuse is estimated at 19,7 percent for females and 7,9 percent for males.
According to a study published in the Clinical Psychology Review 2013, the prevalence rate of child sexual abuse in Africa is 34,4 percent.
In South Africa, a child is raped every three minutes.
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