Adventist Lawyers Association (ALA), an 80-member group of lawyers belonging to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, on Saturday held a free legal clinic at Overspill shops in Epworth as part of the church's drive to end child abuse and prostitution in the area. Epworth is infamous for child prostitution and girls as young as nine years are being sexually abused at a spot popularly known as "paBooster", among other places.
The community's records for child abuse are alarmingly high and the Christian lawyers took their time to conduct a church service and later on one-on-one free legal advice sessions. Scores of children and parents with burning legal questions went home satisfied after meeting the team of experts free of charge. Prominent Harare lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who was part of the team, said their aim was to conscientise the children of their rights in the war against child abuse.
"We have heard several stories about this place, some true while others were untrue. We carried out our own research and established the need for an awareness campaign and free legal advice to the people of Epworth. As a group of lawyers, we have decided to play our party by speaking loudly and boldly against child abuse. We thought of providing meaningful and practical assistance to children who find themselves in abusive set-ups and the assistance that we render is free of charge. To us, faith without works is dead," said Adve Mpofu.
Delivering a sermon during the full-day programme, Pastor Best Shambare said Epworth needed God to change the mind set of child molesters who take advantage of the vulnerable girls.
"Abusing the girls is tantamount to abusing Christ. God is watching you as you park your vehicle at the Booster and pick up a little girl for abusive purposes. Where do you get the guts to abuse a girl who, under normal circumstances, should look up to you as a parent?
"Men of Epworth, stop abusing Jesus. Jesus is crying daily for the lives of the little ones but u have the audacity to continue abusing them. Change your ways of life so that the children of Epworth will live peacefully. The money you spend on the girls after abusing them, should be better channelled towards sending them to school or providing them with fatherly care," he said.
Another lawyer Ms Nyaradzo Maphosa of Sawyer & Mkhushi Legal Practitioners said technological advancement and the social media was negatively impacting on the children. She urged children to report any forms of abuse without hesitation.