Young sexual abuse victims suffer in silence
By Nomzamo Gwebu
Sexual abuse and exploitation of young girls is on the increase in Zimbabwe and Blessing Shumba (47) from Pumula South high density suburb in Bulawayo says many young girls suffer in silence as they do not report the abuse to law enforcement agents.
Blessing says her 14 year old daughter is one of the victims of sexual abuse and that he only learned about the abuse incidents after several months. He says the abuse of his daughter devastated him and that he felt betrayed by his Landlord.
“We moved into this house as tenants in 2019. My wife works in the rural areas in Nkayi. I live in Pumula with my three children. My Landlord has another house in Nketa where he stays with his family. At the end of each month, tenants take their rental payments to Nketa. In 2020, I decided to send my first born daughter (14) to pay rentals since she was familiar with the place where the Landlord stayed,” says Blessing.
Blessing says he started to be concerned about his daughter after noticing a sudden behaviour change. He says his daughter became withdrawn and was reluctant to travel to Nketa to make rent payments.
Blessing says following the revelation, he immediately reported the case at the nearest police station.
“I reported the case to the police and the perpetrator was arrested. He is currently serving in prison. That is no solace for me because my daughter will be affected for the rest of her life,” says Blessing.
He says that the rape damaged her child’s life as he became so distant and her performance at school deteriorated.
“My daughter was really affected by what she went through, at school she deteriorated even at home she developed a culture of locking herself in her room instead of watching TVs like her usual routine”.
He also said that as parents everyone has a role to play in safe guarding young girls and to pay attention to their behaviour whenever there is change, and also to always talk to the kids openly about everything so that if they fall prey it becomes easy.
Nothando Tshuma (28) from Nkulumane suburb in Bulawayo metropolitan province says it is not easy to report cases of sexual abuse because the society tends to turn the story and blame girls for being victims. Also sometimes families will want to protect their images on the expense of their child’s life.
Nothando Tshuma (28) who stays in the same suburb with Nothando says in many cases sexual abuse occurs within the family and it becomes very difficult to report them to the police.
“In so many cases girls get abused by their guardians, family friend or someone whom they know, this makes it difficult to talk if ever you get abused because No one will believe your story.
Another concerned young woman Soneni Moyo (29) from Nketa says it is difficult to report sexual harassment because people tend to change the story and blame the victim and at the end of the day women become guilty and not able to report the perpetrators of sexual abuse.