A TWO-year-old girl from Bindura was kidnapped from the comfort of her family home by two men who broke into their home.
After helping themselves to the family’s hard-earned belongings, the criminals took the little crying baby to a nearby mountain where they took turns to rape her.
Although she survived the ordeal that is sure to scar her for the rest of her life, she lay there motionless in pain and confused. Her life will never be the same again; neither will the lives of her family.
This shocking case is microcosmic of how society’s moral values have decayed, with rape cases of all ages including infants and grannies increasing at an alarming rate.
Media reports and, more importantly, police statistics bear testimony to this worrying trend of social degeneration and decadence.
According to the police, rape cases are on the increase. In 2011, 1 940 cases were reported while in 2012 the figure rose to 10 871.
In 2012, under-16 girls raped totalled 1 553 with the figure rising to 1 628 in 2013. Of course, many more cases go unreported for various reasons including stigma and family pressure; so in reality the problem is worse than these grim statistics suggest.
Last year, courts around the country dealt with 2 089 cases of sexual abuse, including sodomy. Sexual abuse cases against boys are also on the increase. Of these cases, 1 975 were perpetrated against females and 114 were against males.
While all rape cases are gruesome, the courts have had to deal with some rape cases whose details would send shudders down the spine of even hardcore criminals themselves.
Take the case that occurred in Mberengwa, where a man forced himself upon his minor sister-in-law and, after raping her and in fear of being reported to the police, the man bashed the girl and left her for dead in a bushy mountain.
Miraculously, the girl survived and luckily for her a passerby rescued her. For the brutality, the man will spend the next 20 years in the slammer; a rather lenient sentence, some have argued.
In Harare, a 14-year-old girl from the rural areas who was searching for employment as a housemaid was raped after a female police officer had taken her in. The rapist, who was the police officer’s husband, raped the minor twice, infecting her with HIV. He got an effective 40 years.
Elsewhere in Masvingo, a Gutu man raped his own daughter on many occasions over a long period of time. The man’s brother discovered the hideous acts and the matter was reported to the police. The rapist will spend the next 20 years in jail.
In an interview, Chief Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe expressed deep concern over the increasing brutal rape cases, describing the situation as “worrying”.
“Criminology ascribes the commission of crime to various aspects, but one thing which is clear is that general decay in morality is fuelling sexual abuse. There is a general lack of respect for women’s and children’s rights by men,” he said.
“Moral issues are generally regarded as the responsibility of society, particularly the church; what however scares everybody is that there is more decadence in some churches than in beerhalls.
So, we naturally must go back to the basics as a country, have that self-introspection and reorient ourselves on our societal and cultural values.”
Guvamombe also blamed the increase in sexual abuse to economic challenges that have forced people to live in conditions that promote sexual abuse. He said the Judicial Service Commission launched the protocol on the multi-sectoral management of sexual abuse and violence which brings together numerous stakeholders to fight “this scourge”.
As part of the fight against rape, currently there are adverts in the media warning on the dangers of rape and encouraging victims to report their ordeals to the police and seek psychological support.
Former deputy minister of Women Affairs and an advocate for women’s issues, Jessie Majome, said the sentences for rape did not match the gravity of the crime committed.
She said: “If you look at the girl from Mberengwa, 20 years for the perpetrator appears to be quiet lenient. This man abducted this girl, raped her and attempted to murder her.
These are very serious crimes. One count of rape should be 30 years and then you also take into account attempted murder which is a more serious crime.”
Majome said government was not doing enough as far as gender-based violence is concerned.
“We have all these fantastic documents that are just sitting there. We had the Zimbabwe National Gender Policy of 2012 which was developed as a guiding framework for all stakeholders. There is no co-ordination at all, as there is no specific strategy for implementation,” she said.
Zimbabwe clearly has much to do if it is to attain each of the 28 targets of the Sadc Gender Protocol by 2015 which include protection from gender- based violence, health, HIV and Aids and sexual harassment.