IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS News and information service | Southern Africa | ZIMBABWE: More children abused as situation worsens | Children, Gender issues | News Items
Tuesday 7 February 2006
Home About PlusNews Country Profiles News Briefs Special Reports Subscribe Archive IRINnews


East Africa
Great Lakes
Horn of Africa
Southern Africa
·South Africa
West Africa
RSS - News Briefs


PlusNews E-mail Subscription

ZIMBABWE: More children abused as situation worsens

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

Zimbabwe has more than a million orphans

JOHANNESBURG, 23 January (PLUSNEWS) - The worsening humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is making children more vulnerable to abuse, according to child rights NGOs.

"For instance, because of the hike in schools fees many children are visiting schools [trying to negotiate payment] - it makes them more vulnerable at the hands of teachers who exploit them," said Witness Chikoko, acting director of the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect.

Staff at a boarding primary school near Marondera outside the capital, Harare, were recently charged with abusing 52 girls, while 14 primary school girls were also allegedly abused by staff members at a school in the capital.

The Girl Child Network (GCN), an NGO working in 32 of Zimbabwe's 58 districts, said it had recorded an average of 700 rape cases of girls aged up to 16 every month in 2005 - more than 8,000 cases. According to GCN about 93 percent of the children raped in Zimbabwe are girls and seven percent boys.

"The numbers are high because more girls are reporting rape cases," said Betty Makoni, GCN's founder and director, but admitted that the country has a high incidence of sexual abuse.

"It is a combination of factors: the large number of AIDS orphans; increasing poverty, which has forced girls to take up risky professions such as sex work and forced marriages."

About half the girls raped were from child-headed households, she added. Zimbabwe has one of the highest levels of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, which has left one in five children orphaned.

UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) spokesman James Elder said the organisation was "horrified" at the high incidence of sexual abuse among children, but noted that the country had more than a million orphaned children, which made a large vulnerable population.

UNICEF was currently stepping up its work with communities, educating them to spot the signs of child abuse and encouraging them to "tenaciously protect their children by establishing and supporting functional child protection committees, where children themselves are represented," said Elder.

"Community leaders, teachers, mums and dads - these people are the front line in the fight against child abuse," said UNICEF's head of child protection in Zimbabwe, Jose Bergua. "If perpetrators are going to be stopped, if children are going to have the confidence to speak out against these evils, then authority figures need to make it patently clear that child abuse in their communities will not be stomached - silence on this issue shelters the perpetrators and is a crime against children."

Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic crisis and facing serious food shortages as a result of recurring poor harvests and the government's fast-track land redistribution programme, which began in 2000 and has disrupted agricultural production and slashed export earnings.


Recent ZIMBABWE Reports
Prevention campaigns successful as HIV rate drops,  8/Dec/05
AIDS orphans and vulnerable children bear the brunt of collapsing economy,  15/Nov/05
Greater focus urged on protection of children from HIV,  26/Oct/05
Teachers urge free ARVs as AIDS thins their ranks,  14/Oct/05
HIV/AIDS drop - behavioural change or skewed statistics?,  10/Oct/05
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

[Back] [Home Page]

Click here to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about PlusNews Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to Webmaster

Copyright © IRIN 2006
The material contained on comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
All PlusNews material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.