The Sunday News
FAMILIES as we know them, must be anchored on love and togetherness. Families must provide safety and comfort to any member who feels exposed to the vagaries of the outside world.
Men should feel safe when they are surrounded by family. And that safety must be more pronounced when it comes to women and children. However, what is happening on the ground shows a different picture. Families have become the source of trouble, emotionally and physically, especially to women and children.
Our sister paper, Chronicle, reported last week that family members were perpetrators in most cases of sexual violence that were recorded in Matabeleland South with 62 percent of them occurring within the home set up.
The article highlighted that sexual offences increased by 12 percent during the third quarter of the year as compared to the same period last year, while domestic violence cases increased by 30 percent. Presenting a report during a provincial child protection committee meeting in Gwanda last week, Inspector Dorcas Ngwenya from the Matabeleland South Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) said that children below the age of 16 continue to be the most targeted victims in sexual offences.
“Relatives of victims were perpetrators in 31 percent of cases. These relatives include fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins. Neighbours accounted for 30 percent while strangers accounted for 17 percent and others whose relationship with survivors is not known accounted for 20 percent of the offences. Sixty-two percent of the cases occurred at home, 23 percent occurred in the bushes, five percent occurred when children were coming from school while 10 percent of the cases were recorded in other places. The home set-up was previously known as a place of safety for children but these statistics show that homes are no longer a place for comfort and safety. Sexual offences increased by 12 percent during the third quarter this year as compared to the same period in 2021 while domestic violence cases increased by 30 percent,” Inspector Ngwenya was quoted as saying.
She added that a victim analysis of sexual offences showed that children aged five and below accounted for eight percent of the cases. Those aged six to 17 accounted for 68 percent. Adults aged 18 and above accounted for 20 percent of the cases. Insp Ngwenya said in adult cases, women as old as 90 have fallen victim to sexual abuse. Insp Ngwenya said men aged between 18 to 25 are the perpetrators of most sexual offences.
A huffpost.com blog says knowledge is power, and awareness brings advocacy. It says communities must be educated on the need to protect children and women from abuse.
“Educate those around you about the realities of domestic abuse and violence. Whether it is where you work, where you exercise, where you practice your faith, or where your own circle of friends and family are, inform and educate them about this issue. When those around you become aware of the realities of domestic violence among children, they become advocates, as well.”