Zimbabwe officially launched a campaign against rape Thursday with Vice President Joyce Mujuru declaring war against rapists.
Officially launching the campaign in Harare, Vice President Mujuru said almost 11,000 women and girls were raped between 2012 and the first quarter of 2014.
“Statistics from the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) indicated that in 2012 to the first quarter of 2014 a total number of 3,571 adult women and 7,411 female juveniles were raped. Ladies and gentlemen, these trends are unacceptable,” she said.
The vice president said this violated women and children’s rights at a time when Zimbabwe is fighting to contain rising cases of rape.
“This launch is coming against a backdrop of some gruesome incidence of rape, reported in the media where this little five-year old raptured her uterus when her uncle abused her.”
She said rape cases were also prevalent in churches in Zimbabwe, a situation that is worrying. “It has been revealed that some pastors and prophets are preying on their flock when the church is the moral watchdog of society.”
According to the vice president, some cases of rape are linked to forced marriages and other negative traditional practices.
Cases of rape have been attributed to “child marriages, pledging of girls for the purposes of appeasing the spirits and forced wives inheritance. It has also been blamed on rituals purpose, some perpetrators believe that having sex with either a minor or a virgin will help them cure aids. Where has one heard of something so stupid?”
She urged the courts to impose stiffer sentences on rape cases. “Alcohol abuse, poverty and parental neglect are cited as some of the causes. There is therefore, urgent need to take sterner measures to make sure this cancer is nipped in the bud.”
The vice president further noted that rape cases were exacerbated by high levels of poverty and alcohol abuse.
Speaking at the same occasion, Women’s Affairs Minister, Oppah Muchinguri said Zimbabwe should use the new constitution to tackle high cases of rape.