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Tears of a girl child

Bringing up a girl child in Chiadzwa mining area, or any other village near any mine is very difficult. This was proven yesterday Wednesday, 19th of November 2020. Mostly men think it’s the mother’s duty to check on the girl child, teach her the basics of life and protect her. Much to the disappointment of the bearded ones when expectations are not met, and then ALL THINGS FALL APART. This time it’s not Chinua Achebe’s story, it’s ours.

Last week the juvenile, a girl, who is aged fourteen, disappeared from home, where she lives with her mother and step father and two other siblings. Everything was as normal as every day, before she disappeared. The parents thought she had gone to see her sister who lives in Mutare, Hobhouse. The mother then went to Mutare but alas, the girl was back and slept at Bambazonke. The mother followed to Bambazonke and like before, she missed her.

The girl came back to Chiadzwa and remained at the shops, at Tenda business centre. She went to her friend’s rooms, ((who make a living out of commercial sex work) who welcomed her and gave her a drink.  Let’s call the two friends M1 and M2. Names withheld for security reasons. On this occasion M1 is the one who handed the juvenile a pepsi drink which was half. She (girl) innocently drank it. That’s when M1 told her she had a deal for her, the proceeds of which were going to be handed to M1 so that she could keep and later when enough money had been collected, they (girl and M1)could start a business together. The child fell asleep there and there (drugged) only to wake up in a certain buyer’s bathing room, worse with a man beside her, sleeping.

A few people who had passed by had seen the girl and that man sleeping in a very indecent position. The people who had seen the girl alerted the parents. They searched for her, to no avail, and by then it was night. A good samaritan had come to the child’s rescue and had taken her to her house for security reasons waiting for the sun to rise and accompany the child back home. Upon arrival, the parents, (the mother had come back the day before alerted the committee at Tenda business center to come and counsel the child and find out the truth where she had been for four days.

That’s when everything, the black painful truth came out. It was not the girls first time. She narrated how two years ago, at twelve, she had been duped by two girls and was abused and lost her virginity to one of a certain businessman ‘sons. After raping her he then instilled fear in her, telling her he was going to stab her using a knife. M1 is the one who received the payment. Then M1 and M2 told her they would kill her if she spilled the beans. For the past two years that has been her ordeal, being raped by fourteen different men at different times, men of different status.

Names of the perpetrators covered illegal planners, businesspeople and another man who is working at ZCDC and is a local villager with a family. The whole village shook with anger. Some took the law into their hands beating the two girls, and the writer warned against such behavior because they wanted to bind the hands and legs of M1 and M2, lock them in a room, and then hand them over to the police in the morning as it was night. In law that’s kidnapping, and the parents would be arrested for that because everyone should let the law take its course. I advised them to call the police and report. They agreed and the police came to arrest the girls. They were taken to Tonhorai sub police station.

Upon writing this, information as to whether the girl had gone to Mutare for medical check-up or whether the suspects have been handed over to Bambazonke police station is not yet out. The writer has been to the complainant’s homestead twice but there’s no one. The writer had talked to one of the members at ZELA and have been advised to report first to the nearest police station, then make follow ups as to how far the case has gone.

Mugoni wepwere ndeasinaye. It’s painful to see the mother crying even to look at the girl whose rights were violated. A lot of questions linger in mind as to whether the girl has not contracted STIs or HIV. Her health is at risk. To think among the perpetrators are businesspeople and respected men of the village. If these people cannot protect our children, then what are we doing?  Some even went at night to ask for forgiveness, offering lot of money and cattle. But why are people like this? Because someone is poor doesn’t mean money will pay for such injustice.

Many cases have been reported to the details at Tonhorai Police station and nothing was done but this time the community is watching and following closely as to the steps taken towards the arrest and court judgement.

The community now is engaging with the police, so that children below the ages of 18, who make a living through prostitution, can be chased away from Tenda business centre.  Operation GO BACK HOME TO YOUR PARENTS AND GO BACK TO SCHOOL.

Talking of school reminds me that teachers put their tools down a month ago. Which school do they go to? Many children are running away from home due to poverty. Not many parents are still able to pay fees, let alone put something on the table for the family. 90% of people in Zimbabwe are traders, with vendors and flea market owners in every corner of this country. This COVID-19 pandemic and it’s restrictions played another part in displacing people and funds. The most affected right now is our youth and children below 18 who can’t fend for themselves and think robbing people and engaging in commercial sex activities is the answer, exposing them to different kinds of diseases and facing long term in jail.

This can happen to any girl child anytime. Violation of human rights, in the sense of sexual abuse and harassment is not new here in Chiadzwa. Many women die in silence. Some of them fear victimization, or don’t want to “risk a bad name in the society” as some put it. Some think that for a man to rape a woman it’s the woman’s fault. That’s a lie. No one has got a right to force anyone to do what they don’t want to do. If that happens, don’t be intimidated, report straight to the police and the law plays its part.

As we,  as a community await to hear from our police, bear in mind a child is born to two people, a man and a woman, whether you broke up or still together, it is every parents duty to look after our children and to support them, to guide and tutor them. Check on your child’s movements, make sure you create a friendship, create room for dialogue and you should know where your child was, if possible, doing what, with who. Most of the people who sexually abused that child are not new in her life, the parents know most of them. As a parent, leave room for the eyes of the community. Of course, some might lie, seeing what is not there but listen and verify the facts. You are your own child’s detective, but be careful not to overdo it, stepping over your child’s rights.

The name of the writer cannot be disclosed.

Please note, the write up was compiled by a community monitor

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