ZACH expresses concern over impregnated school girl’s low turnout, rapist acquittals

By Nyasha Mutena

Local NGO Zimbabwe Association of Church-related Hospitals (ZACH) has expressed great concern over acquittals unfair judiciary outcomes of victims of rape and low school turnout of impregnated school going children.

Addressing members of the media fraternity on Friday, Zimbabwe Association of Church-Related Hospitals (ZACH) programme coordinator, Dennis Dzikiti stated that that the rate of exonerations of those who marry children, rapists and child molesters is quite unsettling.

“The rate of acquittals of perpetrators of sexual violence involving children is even frustrating police officers who would have effected arrests. Offenders are also given bail, which leaves parents and guardians with less confidence in the justice system,” said Dzikiti.

He emphasized that the shortage of workers is contributing to some acquittals.

“There is a serious shortage of social workers because of brain drain. Since it is required by law that children be accosted by a probation officer in court sessions, the shortage means that children have to be on their own.

“The intimidating environment in court will leave children susceptible to manipulation such that offenders can get away with their crimes,” Dzikiti said.

According to Dzikiti, there is a need to reform the Children’s Act to mitigate such occurrences.

“The Children’s Act has a varied definition of a child which stipulates that a child is a person below the age of 16 years. This contradicts with the definition of a child in UNCRC, ACRWC, and other acts of parliament,” he said.

ZACH recommends comprehensive sexuality education in the curriculum.

The organisation adopted Start Awareness Support Action (SASA) and is implementing the program in eight hot spot districts that include Chimanimani, Mguza, Kwekwe Umzingwane, and Bindura among many other districts.

Initially adopted by Uganda, the programme has immense potential to reduce HIV infections.

Also speaking ZACH Programmes Manager Mr Hombiro bemoaned the attitude of parents upon realising that their girl child has been impregnated whilst in school.

“Honestly parents are letting us down on this subject of matter. Parents are on the forefront saying that my child has known a man such that she has to proceed with marriage. She is now a fully grown woman, let her handle marriage and forget about school, the situation is further exacerbated by peers who might laugh at their fellow impregnated school mate,” said Mr Hombiro.

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