Girl-child abuse: Govt urged to do more

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Zimbabwe National Council for Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) director Reverend Taylor Nyanhete says while the government has done a remarkable thing by providing safe houses for abused girls, there is need to do more to cater for those who need extra help.

Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has spearheaded a program where about 56 young girls have already been put in a safe house where they are receiving critical services and these include those who are vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and those who have been abused.

However, addressing a multi-stakeholder conference recently the ZNCWC director said there was a need to provide another facility for sexually abused girls where they can receive such services as counselling.

“While the ministry has done a commendable move of taking these vulnerable girls into a safe house there is also the need for separate infrastructure to cater for those who would have been sexually exploited as they need extra services like counselling,” said Reverend Nyanhete.

Speaking at the same occasion, Harare Provincial Social Welfare Officer Susan Nkani called for the need to expedite the harmonisation of laws that deal with children’s rights.

“We have various pieces of legislation that are meant to protect children’s rights and these include the Children’s Act, the Marriage Act and the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act which needs to be harmonised as a matter of urgency if we want to deal decisively with this scourge,” she said.

Meanwhile, Labour and Social Welfare Secretary Ngoni Masoka has called on the media to stop sanitizing child abuse by calling it ‘child prostitution’ and instead proposed that a new term be found.

“I urge the media to replace ‘child-prostitution’ with a word like child commercial sexual exploitation and it is in the best interest of protecting children,” he said.

Other delegates at the conference proposed the need to strengthen families as most children are being pushed into commercial sex work by poverty in their families.

Churches were also cited as key stakeholders in the quest to end child commercial sexual exploitation.

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