MORE than 1 600 children were reported raped in the first half of the year countrywide with relatives being singled out as main culprits, police have said. Police spokesperson Superintendent Blessmore Chishaka said the increase in reported rape cases in the country was a major concern.
"Rape cases have increased by five percent as we recorded a total of 2 440 in the first half of the year compared to 2 326 recorded during the same period last year," Supt Chishaka said.
"We are concerned with this increase in rape cases because most of the cases involved girls below the age of 16 years."
Supt Chishaka said 1 628 girls were reported raped between January and June this year compared to 1 553 reported raped during the same period last year.
He noted that in most of the case police found out that relatives would have committed the crime.
"We implore parents to ensure security of their children and never to leave them alone.
"Parents should also never leave children with strangers."
He said parents or guardians should always monitor their children's movements.
Supt Chishaka said in some cases the perpetrators were raping the defenceless little girls as a way of 'curing' HIV and Aids. He emphasised that it was a myth that sleeping with a juvenile would cure HIV and Aids.
Supt Chishaka said 773 women were reported raped last year between January and June while this year the number reported increased to 812 during the same period.
Women's groups have said that many rapes are not reported, although this attitude is changing, especially when children are involved.
Police said most people were attempting to resolve rape cases at village level without involving the police.
But they urged the public to see that rape cases like most serious crimes needed to be reported and attended to early so that evidence is not lost.
In 2011, 3 172 rape cases of juveniles were recorded countrywide while 2 883 were recorded during the same period in 2010.