"In Zimbabwe the sexual abuse and exploitation of the girl child remains high. Recently the state has acknowledged the problem of sexual abuse and exploitation of the girl child and has indicated the willingness to step up campaigns against it. This campaign, however, targets school children in primary and secondary schools. There has also been an increase of sexual abuse of children in schools by the teachers and other staff members. The family as an institution has facilitated child abuse and exploitation in Zimbabwe through cultural practices and customs as a survival tactic. Some commentators have directly linked the revival of these cultural practices to the economic crisis that has resulted in food shortages around the country. These traditional practices include the marriages of the child to older men in exchange for food or money known as kuzvarira, kuripa ngozi, or pledging a girl into marriage and virginity testing. Some of the practices are, however, not directly linked to the prevailing economic crisis, but are just practiced as a tradition like chiramu. These practices have become more common amongst the Shona, the largest tribe constituting at least 76% of the population, and predominantly patriarchal. Theorists of patriarchy have directed their attention to the subordinate status of women and found their explanation in the male need to dominate the female. Although Zimbabwe as a state has shown a commitment to protecting children against sexual abuse by enactment of laws criminalising involvement of the girl child in prostitution, incest and rape of girls, little has been done to ensure that forced and early marriages of the girl child are curtailed. Virginity testing is not criminalised and is also currently being practised in rural parts of the country on a wide scale. ... Chapter one introduces the problem of child sexual abuse and exploitation of the girl child as a universal problem and gives a structure of the study. Chapter two discusses the concept of a child, sexual abuse and exploitation as a human rights problem. It analyses the protection of children under international human rights law. Chapter three gives a broad overview of the relationship between culture and children's rights. The role of the family will also be discussed as articulated in the human rights instruments. Chapter four highlights and discusses the cultural practices that result in sexual abuse and exploitation of the girl child in Zimbabwe. The legal framework protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation and the shortcomings will be highlighted. The impact of such sexual abuse and exploitation on the overall development of the child will also be discussed. Chapter five makes recommendations by looking at the developments from other countries on the rights of the girl child and cultural practises that result in sexual abuse." -- Introduction.
Prepared under the supervision of Dr. B. Twinomugisha, Faculty of Law, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Thesis (LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)) -- University of Pretoria, 2006.