Zimbabwe minors increasingly fall victims to rape

Zimbabwe minors increasingly fall victims to rape

HARARE, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Averagely eight girls under the age of 18 are raped every day in Zimbabwe and most probably by people entrusted to look after them, police statistics showed.

In the first 10 months of this year, police across the country recorded 3,421 rape cases and 2,405 cases, or 72 percent, involved minors as victims, state media reported Thursday. Rape victims were mostly between seven to 12 years old.

Police Assistant Commissioner Isabella Sergio said as many as 41 percent of these child rape cases were committed by the victims' neighbors and another 27 percent by their relatives.

In some cases, parents left neighbors to look after their children while they were away. In others, adolescents next door took advantage of the little girls when they played alone. After being abused, some of the children were given sweets or small sums of money to keep them quiet.

Many Zimbabweans were especially disturbed by incidences of rape involving elderly men, some of them already grandfathers.

In July this year, a 60-year-old man from Norton, a rural town 40 km west of Harare, was sentenced to 15 years in jail after he was found guilty of raping his orphaned eight-year-old twin granddaughters.

The offense only came to light in April after some church elders decided to conduct virginity tests on the girls.

Sergio said the abuse of minors by relatives and neighbors had become cause for concern that police now need to focus more on families and communities to curb rape.