Rape by Juveniles a Growing Concern in Zimbabwe, Experts Say

The Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council said female condom use remains low compared with that of male condoms despite active promotion by public health authorities, but competitive on African terms

Jonga Kandemiiri, Sandra Nyaira | Washington

The Adult Rape Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, says at least 16 percent of the victims in rape cases it handled in 2011 in connection with prosecution in the courts tested positive for HIV. The statistic only includes victims 16 years of age or older, it said.

The clinic voiced concern about a general increase in juvenile offenders too young to be prosecuted. One HIV-positive boy raped several girls beneath the age of 10 and one of the victims later tested positive for HIV, the clinic said.

A separate survey by Doctors Without Borders and the University of Zimbabwe found that most girls and women who have been sexually abused do not know they can seek immediate help to prevent pregnancy and HIV infection.

Spokesman Orirando Manwere of the National Aids Council told reporter Sandra Nyaira that the developing trend of youthful offenders requires the launch of additional educational campaigns to raise awareness of the phenomenon and risk.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council said female condom use remains low compared with that male condoms despite active promotion.

Council spokesman Simon Chikwizo said use of female condoms has fallen off because women fail to negotiate with their partners for safe sex. He said there is great need for the promotion of male involvement in the use of all types of condoms.

The female condom was introduced in Zimbabwe in 1997 but uptake has remained slow.

National Condom Program Coordinator Sinokuthemba Xaba of the Ministry of Health said that acceptance of the female condom has been strong relative to other African countries with his ministry distributing over 5 million of the prophylactics in 2011.