Home » Human Rights » Child Abuse Rampant – Dokora

A total of 237 schoolchildren experienced different forms of abuse between January and September this year and went through the schools psychological services, Primary and Secondary Education minister, Lazarus Dokora has said.

In a speech read on his behalf by principal director in his ministry, Kwadzanai Nyanungo during the official launch of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence in Harare on Friday, Dokora said the majority of abuses were of a sexual nature.

Out of the 237 reported cases, the sexual abuse cases numbered 123.

“The ministry has a zero tolerance policy on gender based violence and abuse of learners, and we aim to make the school environment safe for all children and address issues of victimisation and bullying,” said Dokora.

He said a majority of sexual abuse and rape cases of schoolchildren were actually perpetrated outside the school environment.

“There were 47 cases of teenage pregnancies reported and 33 cases of physical abuse and 29 cases of bullying, two of child neglect, as well as three cases of emotional abuse,” said Dokora.

The statistics given were said to be the tip of an iceberg, especially with regards to teenage pregnancies as most cases were going unreported.

“While there is an increasing trend of reporting of such cases and responsiveness by our teachers, we are concerned with the delays in legal processes.

Teachers have expressed concern over the handling of some of the cases and the outcomes,” said Dokora.

An example was given of a Buhera man who allegedly raped and impregnated his two daughters but was acquitted of the crimes for lack of evidence, after tests and other necessary investigations to assist as evidence against him were not carried out.

He said ancillary staff in his ministry had also abused their positions of trust and engaged in nefarious activities of improper behaviour with learners.

“Serious work is underway to reduce such instances. In 2013 we recorded 245 cases whereby teachers had been accused of sexual relationships with students.

Not all cases are coming forward because the perpetrators often abuse children outside the school environment,” said Dokora.

He said in some cases perpetrators were ordered to marry their victims by the parents and if they refused that was when they were booked for rape offences.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa said the Criminal Law Codification Act was being amended to provide minimum mandatory sentences for sexual abuse crimes.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard