20 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Silence Over Three Missing Chimanimani Girls

At a time when local NGOs are vocal on the Nigerian girls who were abducted by a terrorist group, silence has greeted the fate of three Chimanimani girls who have been missing for almost a month with the police said to be refusing to investigate the matter.

Aged between 13 and 16 the three siblings were initially abducted by Amon Jekiseni from the Machongwe Business Center where Jekiseni runs a tuck-shop. A search party traced the girls to Jekiseni's house the following day where it was alleged that one of the girls had been sexually abused. The community searched for the girls and found them in the house.

The parents reported the case and left the girls in police custody and made a request for a medical exam at Mutambara Hospital. But the following day the police phoned to say they had released the girls. When they did not reach home the police refused to investigate the disappearance, threatening to arrest the parents themselves.

The details of the case are contained in a Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) May newsletter. A ZPP spokesman confirmed that the girls were still missing and that no media alerts were made prior to the publication of the newsletter. He referred SW Radio Africa to the Marwirana family for further details but their number was unreachable.

Several other NGOs also said they had not heard of the story. Grace Chirenje from the Zimbabwe Young Women's Network for Peace Building said she had not heard of the development until SW Radio Africa contacted her.

Chirenje said the silence over the disappearence of the three girls was indicative of the situation in the country where many women rights violations such as rape go either 'unreported or underreported.'

She said: 'This should be an issue in Zimbabwe especially at a time when there is a lot of terrorism in Africa. We have been passionate and at the forefront about Boko Haram so I agree that there is a problem if those girls are still missing and nothing has been done about it.'

A week before the Chimanimani girls disappeared about 100 Zimbabwean women gathered at the Nigerian Embassy in Harare in solidarity with the Nigerian girls who were abducted by Islamist group Boko Haram.

Calling themselves the Zimbabwe Young Women, the demonstrators represented various groups fighting for gender justice in Zimbabwe. However they were later criticised for not being as vocal on behalf of Zimbabwean girls and young women who continue to silently suffer serious abuses.

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