A sixty-four-year-old Bindura man in Mashonaland Central has been arrested for allegedly raping four minors, authorities have said.
Zimbabwe Republic Police National Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said that the alleged rape cases were committed on different occasions.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is investigating a case of sexual abuse which occurred in Kandemiri village, under Chief Musana, Bindura, where a 64-year-old abused four relatives from his wife`s side. These are aged 14, 10, 8, and 11,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.
He added that the suspect was expected to appear in court for trial.
The incident came as the police are still investigating the case of a 14-year-old girl Memory Machaya, who died at a church shrine in Marange, Manicaland Province while giving birth. The incident has raised serious concern among the society of child marriages and early pregnancies, with child rights activists and other pressure groups demanding more action from the government and police against the social problem.
Statistics show that in Zimbabwe, 32% of girls are married off before the age of 18, 4% are married before they turn 15 and approximately 1 in 3 girls is married before age 18.
The problem of child marriages and early pregnancies has been worsened by the extended closure of schools due to the COVID 19 pandemic-induced national lockdowns. Organisations that protect the welfare of children and stakeholders have raised fears that more children could drop out of school due to pregnancies and for marriage as the pandemic continues to rage.
A traditional leader from Silobela said there had been an increase in the number of girls who were falling pregnant at a young age in his area. Chief Cyprian Malisa said that the prolonged closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic had seen a rise in cases of underage girls becoming pregnant.
“One major problem we have is that children are not going to school and some underage girls, as we are observing in some parts of Silobela, are falling pregnant,” said Chief Malisa.
Chief Malisa said extreme poverty was one of the driving factors for child marriages in Silobela, as some parents married off young girl children in exchange for money or other material benefits.
A report by the government says nearly 5,000 teenage girls became pregnant in January and February this year and about 1,800 entered early marriages during the same period.