Young men suffer more from physical abuse…

More boys than girls suffer from physical violence in Zimbabwe according to the latest findings by Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency.

The National Baseline Survey on Life Experiences of Adolescent preliminary report by ZimStats revealed that close to 61 percent of men aged 18 to 24 experienced physical violence from parents or adult relatives before they reached the legal age of majority compared to 48 per cent of females.

Physical violence is defined as intentional use of physical force against a child that can either result in or has probable likelihood of resulting in harm.

This violation of a child’s well-being can affect the child’s dignity, health, survival and development.

In law, parents, guardians, school heads and deputy heads are allowed to punish a child physically, but the school head and deputy are only allowed to punish male pupils.

ZimStats reported that abused children tended not to seek help. Very few received professional help after being sexually abused regardless of their age and sex.

“Among females aged 13 to 17 years who experienced sexual violence in the 12 months preceding the survey, about two per cent received professional help,” reads the report. “The analysis for service-seeking among males aged 13 to 17 years was not possible because fewer than 25 males who had been sexually abused reported having sought professional help.”

Speaking at the launch of the survey in Harare, the minister for women’s affairs, gender and community development, Oppah Muchinguri, attributed escalating sexual abuse cases to social media.

Said Muchinguri: “Increasingly, the internet and mobile phones put children at risk of sexual violence as some adults look to the internet to pursue sexual relations with children.

“There is increased circulation of images with the children sending each other sexualised messages or images on their mobile phones, so called sexting, which puts them at risk for other abuse,” she added.

Muchinguri urged communities, government and civil society organisations to boost the campaign and ensure that children could speak out and report abuse of any nature.

“Children who experience sexual violence are at significantly greater risk for depression, post traumatic stress, suicide, unwanted pregnancy, miscarriages and other pregnancy related complications,” she said.

According to statistics released by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, most of the reported cases of child abuse occurred in the home and most of the the perpetrators were relatives and guardians.

The national co-ordinator of the Victim Friendly Unit National, Assistant Commissioner Isabel Sergio, said: “In 2012, 2,918 rape cases were reported against 2,865 cases of other forms of abuse. This year, 2,191 rape cases were reported against 2,276 cases of other forms of abuse from just January to September.”.

Chief Chinamhora said the increasing numbers of abuse cases was a result of moral decadence in society and implored parents to instil in their children cultural values that ensured citizens lived in harmony.

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