A legislator from the MDC-T, who is also a passionate gender activist, has called on victims of rape and physical abuse to speak out, after statistics released by the police last week showed that child rape cases were on the rise.
The call came after the Victim Friendly Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police revealed a shocking rise in the sexual abuse of children under18 years old, with more than 2,400 cases reported by October this year.
The figures were revealed by Assistant Commanding Officer, Isabella Sergio, at a crime awareness seminar last week. She said of the 3,421 abuse cases that were reported, 2,405 were rape and 27% had been committed by relatives.
Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo, from the MDC-T, said she had warned government to do something about abuse years ago, but nothing was done. The few institutions that existed in 2000 claimed they did not have enough money to help more victims.
Speaking to our Behind the Headlines programme on Monday, Khumalo said she was heartbroken by the recent statistics.
3,421 cases of child abuse were reported between January and October this year, but Khumalo said she was sure many more had gone unreported, due to fear and shame.
Domestic violence was also reported to be on the rise. The police unit documented 8, 296 cases in 2011. But as of October this year 9,807 cases had already been documented.
Khumalo said a clear message must be sent to victims that the only way to heal is to talk about the experience with others and not be fearful or ashamed. She added that she is available at anytime to assist victims of rape.
The statistics come at a time when the world is observing 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, a global campaign aimed at ending violence against women, whether it is politically motivated or domestic.
But Khumalo said this should be an everyday campaign throughout the year, because so many children are experiencing abuse each day of their lives.
Tabitha Khumalo can be phoned on her Zim mobile number 0772600010.