Spike In Teenage Sexual Violations During COVID-19 Lockdown.
CORAH recently caught up with Shamwari YeMwanasikana (SYS) on how COVID-19 has negatively impacted lives of teenage girls in the country. Shamwari YeMwanasikana (SYS) is one of the community based organization (CBO) dealing with girlchild issues in Zimbabwe.
Due to national Covid-19 induced lockdowns teenagers felt isolated, anxious and bored. The uncertainty of their future coupled with fear of losing loved ones to the pandemic pushed some of the teenagers to find friendship and comfort from people who ended up victimizing them.
Florence Mutake from Shamwari YeMwanasikana (SYS) told this publication that many teen girls were victimised during the lockdown , some were raped and others forced into early marriages.
“Due to lockdown most of the teenagers who were sexually abused ended up getting pregnant and some of them contracted sexually transmitted diseases since they did not report before 72 hrs for them to get medical help”, said Florence.
She further expressed how it has been dealing with sexual violation issues in Chitungwiza, “working with many girls especially here in Chitungwiza where our headquarters is , has made us deal with many sad stories”. Sometimes it is the relatives who victimize these girls , hence the issue are then kept a secret”, she added.
Florence explained that working with local leaders, pastors , contact persons and sometimes whistle blowers has made helped the organisation in reaching out to many victims in Chitungwiza. Florence added that SYS has a counselling team and works with hospitals and clinics that make sure the victims get necessary help.
“We have our counselling team for the girls and we also work with Hospitals and local clinics to make sure the teenagers get help. There are projects for girls who were abused and also groups so that they share their journey to total recovery for them to remain strong”, she added .
SYS urges CBOs, whistle blowers, community leaders and parents to work together in bringing these issues to light and perpetrators to book.
“Most teenage girls do not speak up because they are afraid of the perpetrators and at times think it is their fault. I encourage community based organizations, whistle blowers , leaders and parents to work together in fighting this demon. Chitungwiza has over a million people in population, we cannot do this alone but if we work together we can fight abuse of the girlchild”, she narrated .