BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
Illegal mining activities in Matabeleland South’s Esigodini area have led to an increase in gender-based violence cases and a child pregnancy, a local non-governmental organisation says.
The Bulawayo-based Women Institute for Leadership (WILD) said the issues were raised at a residents meeting held in Esigodini.
“The purpose of this meeting was to educate Habane (township) residents on GBV and how as citizens we can mitigate against this pandemic,” said Bridget Ndlovu, the WILD communications officer.
“Over the years residents in Habane have been sharing that there is a rise of GBV with many young girls becoming victims of GBV
“We thought it necessary that we engage residents and try to raise awareness on this important issue particularly for women and men.
“We invited the men because it is important to have them so that we can eradicate this GBV.”
Habane councillor Partson Sibanda said GBV cases were not being properly handled in Esigodini.
“Some of these cases were not effectively attended to but as the lockdown is easing up, some of these cases are now being taken care of and referred to the police, “Sibanda said.
“The most serious issue is of the girl child and this lockdown has given them free time to roam around and some of them have been impregnated. We are emphasising parents not to shun those little girls that are pregnant, they should go to school as it is their right. ”
Sibanda said residents were worried that artisanal miners were being linked to GBV cases and sexual exploitation.
“These illegal miners have money and they are manipulating young girls. There is also the issue of overcrowding in houses due to the influx of these illegal miners,” he said.
Esigodini Residents Association chairperson Gift Ndlela said many school girls were being impregnated by the illegal miners.
“Esigodini is a place where there is money due to mining activities,” Ndlela said.
“If only government can help us, we are not saying we do not want outsiders but what is happening here has become out of hand.
“Our young children are being abused and this affects their future.
“Many of these children are now pregnant or are now someone’s wife at a young age.
“Children should not be made to work as breadwinners when parents are there.
“They have to go to school. Parents should also educate their children on issues of GBV.”
Plan International Zimbabwe representative Faithful Mangena said some parents were concealing their children’s pregnancies.
“Parents hide children who are pregnant for their own benefit because mostly they tend to benefit from the perpetrator,’ Mangena said.
Some of these parents do not care about the future of their children
“When the perpetrator is a relative most of these cases are being hidden.
“Families wanting to protect their family names, hide those issues and that affects the confidence of girls at school.
“Parents also fail to educate their children on reproductive health and rights.”