By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Villagers in rural Epworth, about 15km east of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, are determined to fight child abuse – but they are divided on how such cases should be dealt with.
Speaking at a forum organised by Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum in Epworth, most villagers said they would report cases to the police even if it was not their child in order to fight against abuse in their community.
“We will not let these cases go unreported as child abuse is becoming an obstacle to the girl child’s future,” said one villager.
However, others said they would want to be financially compensated for what had happened. One villager said he would expect something in return if his child was harmed, hence reporting the case to the police would be a loss.
“I am not happy with that. If I report the case to the police, the culprit will be arrested but I will not get anything yet I would want to be compensated,” he said.
His sentiments were supported by another villager who said it was a waste of time reporting to the police that his girl child has been impregnated or raped because he would want to be compensated in the form of payment.
However, police officials who attended the gathering warned community members against accepting compensation without reporting rape cases.
Village head Iden Chitandariro, 57, congratulated the Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum for such dialogues “because they enlighten many people.”
“We sometimes on our own discuss these issues but we are not taken seriously. But when police and other stakeholders come like this it helps our communities to better appreciate these issues. With the help of Padare we are trying by all means to sensitise the community to report these issues.
“Of course there is friction, it’s normal, but with time people will get to appreciate some of these issues,” Chitandariro said.
Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum programme officer Nakai Nengomasha said the forums are aimed at reducing the high number of child the rapes in communities. Growing numbers of children are becoming victims of rape and sexual abuse due in part to high incidence of HIV and Aids coupled with the myth that if a man with HIV or Aids rapes a virgin he will be cured.
“We are saying let’s create platforms where people openly discuss some of these issues in an environment that is unthreatening, in an environment that is there to promote access to services. We are also facing challenges in the beginning, of people [unwilling] to talk about it but when they have the buy -in people are free to talk about it. Because some of these issues are so personal so most people are affected by these issues,” Nengomasha added.