By Nevson Mpofu
There is an outcry over the increase in child abuse cases which come in the form of sexual violation, labour, economic exploitation, neglect, trafficking and pornography. This happens as the world battles HIV and AIDS and increasing levels of poverty.
In a bid to bring attention to this disaster and increase awareness and protection of children’s rights, the Parliament of Zimbabwe is working on 30 pieces of legislation related to the Children’s Act which need to be aligned to the Constitution. There are calls for strict legislation regarding the protection and safeguarding of children, especially the girl child. The Government will come out with the strategy of sexual offenders’ registration so as to get correct statistics and be able to deal with the issue.
Addressing journalists,Taylor Nyanhete, the Director of the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children said 150 million girls are forced into unprotected sex and end up vulnerable and to poverty. He said boys are also at risk. Nyanhete said1, 2 million children are trafficked annually. He urged the Government to craft deterrent legislation against offenders so as to protect the children.
‘’The Law will at a time in the future make it 40 years imprisonment for rape cases involving a minor and more for those who sexually abuse those with disability especially if they are young. The fact on ground is that there is a high increase in school dropouts and this is mostly affecting the girl child who has more responsibilities at home .
‘’Sexual exploitation and vulnerability is increasing on a daily basis. We also face challenges related to child-headed families which face economic problems which we need to address as a nation,’’ Nyanhete said.
Commenting on the same issue, a Child Rights Expert with the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children, Maxim Murungweni said a number of girls around the country are still faced with problems of rape and child trafficking. Other girls are forced into prostitution because of their vulnerability to mounting economic challenges.
‘’It’s not that they like it either. Some of these girls are forced into prostitution because sometimes they have no option apart from accepting such impossibilities which expose them to HIV and AIDS. Governments must be custodians of children’s rights as cherished by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children.”
Investments in children’s future creates for them a just world where everyone has his or her rights as echoed by the convention, said another expert.
An HIV and AIDS Programme Manager with the National AIDS Council, Tendai Mbengeranwa said the optimism of his organisation is to end AIDS by 2030. She indicated that National AIDS Council is following guidelines, regulations and mandates of UNAIDS at International level.
‘’Ending AIDS by 2030 can just be a story of success because we have gone long a way in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country. Our optimism is that AIDS can be eliminated by 2030. This is accompanied by the universal talk on closing the tap of new HIV infection,’’ she concluded.