Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
President Mugabe has called for a nationwide campaign against abuse of women and children, saying imposition of stiffer penalties on perpetrators alone is insufficient to curb the crime.
He said this at belated International Women’s Day commemorations at a hotel in Harare yesterday.
President Mugabe said his weekly briefings from Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri showed disturbing child sexual abuse statistics.
Several girls narrated to President Mugabe how they were sexually abused.
“Taratidzwa vana vakapambwa. Dzimwe nguva vanopambwa nehama dzimwe nguva nana baba zvichinzi mushonga. Hatizivi kuti chirikumboitika chii.
“It’s a real epidemic, every Monday when we get a report from the Commissioner-General you have children who would have been abused, abused by the elders and in some cases by the fathers. A child of four months or three months, murume unenge uchiti uri kuitei?
“And then there are rapes of teenagers and rapes of grown-up persons then even of, maihwe, vezera rangu nhai. Mbuya zvavo vakazvigarira. Ko washayeyi? That is very bad.
“Takatoti naMai Mujuru kuti ah ngatichiti veWomen’s League, ve Youth League tose tonobatana nevemachechi tonobatana nemimwe misanganowo yekuti tipote tichiita misangano mumaprovince umu yekuunganidza vanhu kuti chava chii ichi.
“Hongu kuHurumende tingachinje zvedu mirawo tingaiite mirawo yekupanicha vanhu vachienda kumajeri asi ndingakuudzei chokwadi kuti majeri anozara. Chakanaka ndechekuti tipe vanhu pfungwa nendangariro kuti izvi hazviite. Tomboedza izvozvo kuti zvingatapudze mhosva dzacho. It would reduce the incidence of this crime,” he said.
President Mugabe urged women to be careful about the men around them, including spouses and other relatives.
“Don’t trust men. Don’t trust us at least for now until we prove we are worth trusting because several of these cases ndedzemwana asiiwa nababa zvichinzi mombondichengetera ndichamboenda kutsime kana kuti ndirikumboenda kwakati just for an hour or two mozoona kamwana kachichema.”
He said women should not hesitate to make police reports wherever they suspected abuse.
President Mugabe had the gathering in laughter when he said while former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi liked women, he had never raped children but instead kept company of commercial sex workers.
He reiterated his condemnation of homosexuals, saying such practices were unnatural.
“Varikuramba (the West) vachitishora vachiti tiri kukanganisa, kuti we must accept kuti there is change in the world, that the gays have rights. The gays have no human rights. Vanoti they have human rights — human rights for doing an inhuman thing.
“Kunonorara nemumwe murume it’s a human thing? It’s inhuman. Human rights cannot derive from that which is inhuman. It’s just a contradiction of terms,” he said.
President Mugabe said Government had made great strides to improve women’s social standing, and the adoption of a new constitution last year had further improved their rights.
“Soon after the country acquired independence in 1980, my Government embarked on a serious drive to eliminate gender discrimination. The establishment of a ministry that dealt with women’s issues was one of the steps we took to ensure that we achieve gender equality and empower our women economically, socially and politically,” he said.
Among laws amended to this end are the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, criminalising sexual offences and wilful transmission of HIV; the Domestic Violence Act; the Administration of Estates Act, which protects women’s inheritance rights; and the Equal Pay Regulations.
President Mugabe said the Constitution compelled equal representation of men and women in all institutions and Government agencies, and urged women to take advantage of these provisions.
The President, however, said affirmative action would only benefit those with requisite skills and challenged women to take up science subjects, which are dominated by men.
President Mugabe thanked Apostolic sects that were now sending their children to schools and hospitals, pointing out there was nothing unBiblical in using modern methods.
He said Zimbabwean women were resourceful and fended for their families in difficult situations.
“You will get them as far afield as Cape Town, kunana Malaysia varikutengesa twunhu twavo, Thailand maihwe, China . . . vanenge vachienda and when the situation is that tough they are the ones who save it,” President Mugabe said.
He said the informal sector was vibrant and scoffed at suggestions that Zimbabwe had an unemployment rate of over 70 percent, and called for more lines of credit to promote entrepreneurs.
The International Women’s Day international theme was “Equality for Women is Progress for All”, while Zimbabwe’s theme was “Celebrating Women’s Gains through Constitutional Provisions”.