By Takudzwa Mudzimukunze
MUTARE- Cases of child sexual abuse in Manicaland are increasing quarterly, a National Aids Council (NAC) quarterly progress report has revealed.
The progress report with figures of the last quarter of 2014, compiles data from the ten districts with an indepth analysis of core output indicators submitted by implementing partners shows a sharp increase in abuses cases.
NAC monitoring and evaluation officer Simbarashe Maquina said this increase in abuse cases was a worrisome trend which called for a cross-sectorial response.
He said a total of 294 children (88 male) were sexually abused in the province compared to 170 children in the third quarter.
Although the number of abuse cases has increased for both males and females during the quarter under review there are still more female abuse cases compared to males.
Maquina said combined with figures of teenage girls who underwent treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, stakeholders have their work cut out.
“There is an increase in the number of cases of sexual abuse against children mostly under the age group of 15 years and below. This worrisome trend calls for intervention of all stakeholders to protect particularly the girl child.
“If you look at the combined figures of children who are being treated for sexually transmitted diseases and those of abused calls for a multi sector response,” he said.
Assistant Inspector Winnet Matendera of the ZRP Victim Friendly Unit, says the most worrisome fact of these sexual abuse cases was the intimate relations between perpetrators and victims.
She said in most cases victims are familiar with their abusers, with some being blood relations. She said this raised a challenge in intervention as perpetrators were protected.
”In most cases we have handled we discovered that there is a relationship between victims and perpetrators as most abusers are close to their victims.
”In some cases victim and perpetrator even share blood relations posing a challenged to our intervention efforts.
”This means perpetrators are protected and it becomes increasingly difficult to assist victims,” said Asst Insp Matendera.
The stakeholders have called for the revival of district child protections units to curb increasing cases of sexual abuse.
In response NAC is working towards decentralization of HIV and AIDS activities and resources at district level with activities which are district specific and events based in order to address the gaps on the ground.
As part of combative efforts NAC will also focus more on treatment Manicaland as the province has the highest number of people living with HIV and AIDS which stands at a ten year average of 15.2%.