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Writes Marlvin Ngiza
Buhera Residents Network Trust (BRNT) has called for increased attention and expedited response to child abuse cases in communities amid reports that some of the cases have been left unreported or unattended, especially in rural communities.
In a message to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, BRNT Director Leonard Mabasa called for communities to break the norm of ignoring child abuse cases while calling for legal empowerment of the public with laws that address gender-based violence.
“We bemoan the spike in number of child marriages in our beloved district. Those below 18 years are now mothers despite being below the age of legal majority. Treating cases of child abuse with the urgency they deserve is progressive. Child Protection Committees should be vibrant, functional, and resourced. Cases of child rape, usually vanish because of ignorance, delay to seek Post Exposure Prophylaxis, delay to report to the police, and high desire by parents to negotiate and to seek compensation either financially or in the form of livestock.
“As a community, we need legal empowerment support with regard to laws that deal with gender-based violence. We need Gender Champions who will defend the rights of girls and women daily. Some of the Acts that communities need awareness of include The Termination of Pregnancy Act (Chapter 15:10), Domestic Violence Act (5:16), The Children’s Act (5:06), and the Public Health Act among others,” said Mabasa.
Mabasa further said that the water crisis in the district of Buhera has been exposing women and girls to gender-based violence.
“We are greatly worried about the interrupted supply of water in Murambinda as this is the source of conflicts for women and girls at water points. Considering that a family of five might need at least 120 litres of water per day, it means clashes for the precious liquid is unavoidable,” he added.
According to statistics produced by BRNT, in every secondary school, at least 5 girls below 18 years abandon education as a result of early marriages or unwanted pregnancy, a situation which gives an astonishing figure of between 200-350 girls dropping out of school annually as a result of sexual offences.
This year’s 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence are running under the global theme “UNITE! Invest to prevent gender-based violence against women and girls”.