Home » Human Rights » Child Sexual Abuse – Govt Sets Up Committee

GOVERNMENT has established an inter-ministerial committee to craft mechanisms to fight child sexual abuse and violence against women amid revelations that 100 such cases were reported last week alone.

The committee will comprise the ministries of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Primary and Secondary Education, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Health and Child Care.

This was said by the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah Muchinguri, while responding to questions in Senate yesterday.

“As a ministry we are concerned that everyday we have some rape cases that are reported in the media. Just using one example, in Cabinet the Minister of Home Affairs (Kembo Mohadi) reported that within seven days where he was monitoring as a minister, more than 100 rape cases were perpetrated.

“This was last week alone and it caused Cabinet to recommend that there should be an inter-ministerial committee that will be chaired by my ministry and will comprise ministry of education because children are being raped mainly by relatives and fathers and it is not only school-going children but even children at the age of three months,” Minister Muchinguri said.

“We also looked at the role that tradition plays because when we were looking at the causes of gender-based violence we realised that some use culture as an excuse.

“So the Ministry of Local Government will be involved so as to guide us on culture which is not harmful,” she said.

Minister Muchinguri said even the new Constitution outlawed cultural practices that perpetuate abuse of women.

“We have accommodated the Ministry of Health to make sure that cases of rape wherever they occur, you have immediate attention and to ensure that the nurses or health attendants act swiftly to make sure that evidence is gathered.

“We have also included the Ministry of Legal Affairs to make sure that the issue of mandatory sentences is looked into as a matter to urgency.

“Because the concern is whenever some criminals steal livestock there is always a mandatory sentence. The concern that Cabinet had was that some of the sentences we have were not stiff enough to deter people from engaging in rape or criminal activities.

“So the Ministry of Legal Affairs will be charged with the responsibility to come up with appropriate legislature which will be deterrent enough to make sure that the issues of ever-increasing rape cases would be adequately addressed,” she said.

Her ministry had also established a committee that includes various stakeholders from churches, civil society, traditional leaders and students to come up with plans of action to stem gender-based violence. The minister said there were plans to hold a national day of prayer against gender-based violence.

“I want to assure you that no stone will be left unturned as we fight gender-based violence,” Minister Muchinguri said.

During belated commemorations of the International Women’s Day last week, President Mugabe called for an all-stakeholders’ approach to combat child sexual abuse saying stiffer sentences alone would not solve the problem.

Source : The Herald