The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is concerned about a rise in cases involving the rape of children by relatives or people known to them.
According to ZRP Midlands Provincial Police Spokesperson Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko, the perpetrators are usually trusted family members, who target vulnerable women and children.
“Police have noted with concern that rape perpetrated against children by either relatives or people known to them continues to rise. Observations indicate that these cases occur at any time of day, in both rural areas and in urban areas,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Inspector Mahoko said in some of the cases the families of the victim and perpetrator connive to arrange a marriage between the two.
“However, at times it is disheartening to note that in some of the cases parents or relatives connive with the rapist to force the children into marriages, which are against the law,” he said.
He said the public should report rape for the police to bring justice to the victims, adding that some people are not reporting rape cases to the police.
“Cases of this nature are only reported after the victims fall pregnant or after the parent discovers or suspects the child is being abused sexually,” Inspector Mahoko said.
He encouraged people taking care of minors or mentally challenged people, regardless of gender, to constantly monitor them to ensure that they are protected from such dangers.
The police spokesperson said some offenders claim to be influenced by traditional beliefs, poverty and other factors leading to child marriages.
According to Inspector Mahoko, trends have also shown that strangers pounce on girls and women left alone or in the bushes running errands.
“People should make use of suggestion boxes, social media platforms on police numbers and handles provided by the police, and any other organization that deals with such incidents,” Inspector Mahoko said.