Shuvai (12 years) had been staying with her grandmother at her rural home in Gokwe, following the death of her parents. An aunt then came and took her to her house in the city of Harare to work as her domestic worker. During her stay there, Shuvai was sexually abused by her uncle several times. Despite telling her aunt, she did not believe her and instead accused her of lying. This went on for some time until Shuvai fell pregnant. Concerned neighbours then confronted her aunt and together they made a report to the police, leading to the arrest of the uncle. Shuvai was then taken for medical examinations, counseling and given the option by the doctor to terminate the pregnancy. She however opted to keep the baby. The uncle was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
The Child Protection programme focuses on strengthening national and community based child protection systems to be able to prevent and respond to all forms of child abuse. Zimbabwean children face numerous child protection violations which include rape, sodomy, harmful traditional and religious practices such as early marriages, virginity testing, kuripa ngozi (appeasing avenging spirits) among others. Save the Children is working at community and national level to ensure that all children are protected in line with Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
In Zimbabwe, Save the Children’s child protection programme focuses on three Child protection sub themes: protection of children from violence, Appropriate Care and Child Protection Systems. All our work and interventions are implemented in partnership with central government line ministries and departments as well as Local Authorities, which include Judicial Service Commission, Chipinge, Hurungwe and Beitbridge Rural District Councils and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
Child Protection Systems
In partnership with Judicial Services Commission, the theme is strengthening coordination of the National Victim Friendly System in Zimbabwe. Over the years, capacity building of stakeholders and institutional development of relevant departments to prevent and respond to cases of violence and sexual abuse of children was done. Save the Children supported the establishment and equipping of 17 Victim Friendly Courts and 2 Child Friendly Clinics. These courts were provided with recording machines, televisions, transcribing machines and anatomically correct dolls to enable for child sensitive court sessions to be held. These initiatives resulted in a quick turn-around of child abuse cases heard in court.
Protection of Children from Violence
Integrated programming with Education and Child Rights Governance themes is being done to protect children from violence and abuse including Physical and Humiliating Punishment (PHP), in partnership with Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. Advocacy with government for legal reform through realignment of the Education Act to the new Constitution that inhibits humiliating punishment in all settings is being done. Schools and communities are being trained in Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting and Teaching to enable them to adapt positive discipline practices in their day to day lives. Training and coaching of teachers, District Child Protection committees’ members and parents is being done to increase capacity of these duty bearers and community to better protect children from violence and abuse.
A children’s online safety project is being implemented as a test and invest project. The project is being delivered in Harare Province, targeting a total of 20 schools, parents and Police. Children, teachers and parents are being capacitated through training and children’s online safety clubs to be better informed on risks children face whilst online and how they can better protect themselves, including being able to report. Work with Police is focused on strengthening their capacity to be able to respond to online cases reported to them. Throughout the project, an operational research is being conducted in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe.
Save the Children is implementing a regional project together with South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique. The purpose is to prevent unsafe migration of children and ensure safe repatriation for children at risk of unsafe migration in Zimbabwe. Bilateral coordination of governments to better address the challenge of unsafe migration is being done, including policy harmonization. Resources to enable for identification, documentation, tracing and reunification of unaccompanied migrant children are provided to enable government to deliver on their mandate. In partnership with Rural District Councils, economic strengthening of communities is being done through income generating projects so as to reduce the financial burden that is recognized as the main driver to unsafe migration.