THE slow pace at which child abuse survivors delay reporting has resulted in them not having early medical interventions, a Zimbabwe Republic Police official has said.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Speaking at the Save The Children centenary celebrations on Tuesday, Supt Francis Mutema with the Victim Friendly Unit said they have observed a growing saddening trend of people closely linked to the survivors of child abuse promoting a culture of silence through intimidation.
“We have also learnt from the analysis of the data we are handling on a day to day basis that the majority of the survivors of sexual violence in this country are actually being victimized by the people that are close to them. Be they close relatives or neighbours.
“That learning point is very critical because it is actually helping us or it is actually informing us in terms of interventions we can come up with. We have also learnt that these strong relatives, one of the strongest weapons they use on the survivors is that of silence.
“Survivors are being intimidated. Survivors are being bribed not to disclose offences. And as various stakeholders this is an area we need to concentrate on. What is it we can do to try and help communities to come out in the open and disclose these offences? We have learnt over the years and this is an area we are trying improve,” he said.
He added this has seen them receive stale cases thus impacting the protection of children and promotion of their rights.
“We learnt over the years that the cases coming to us as a system are more or less stale cases. These are cases that are reported late and we are trying to come up with a mechanism to raise as much awareness as possible and encourage survivors to come up with in the open earlier for various reasons.
“Some of the selling points that we are taking to the community is the importance of early medical interventions and also in terms of the forensic evidence and the forensic value that we can get from early reporting,”said Supt Mutema.
In her remarks, Save The Children Country Director Yvonne Arunga said it is of utmost importance to protect children as they are the most vulnerable members of society especially in disasters.
“There are things that happen in societies. The wars, famines, droughts, catastrophes. We had the Idai Cyclone this year. Yes they affect everybody in society but they affect children even more by virtue of them being children. So that’s why these rights are important especially when such catastrophes happen,” she said.
Save the Children assists Zimbabwe’s Victim Friendly System in a number of ways to guarantee the rights and protection of children.