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October 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1995 Dec; 41(12): 1693-704.

Child sexual abuse in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.

Meursing K, Vos T, Coutinho O, Moyo M, Mpofu S, Oneko O, Mundy V, Dube S, Mahlangu T, Sibindi F.

Ministry of Health, Matabeleland AIDS Council, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

The extent, nature, causes and consequences of child sexual abuse in Matabeleland. Zimbabwe, are explored by an intersectoral working group consisting of health, legal and AIDS prevention workers who were struck in the course of their work by the regularity with which they saw sexually abused children infected with HIV and STDs. Methods used in this study are record review, focus group discussions, structured and in-depth interviews. Child sexual abuse cases form between 40-60% of the rape cases brought to the attention of hospitals, police and court and many more are believed to remain unreported. Half of the sexual abuse in children is detected through STDs and some have HIV. The majority of offenders are mature men known to the child. Factors influencing child sexual abuse are male dominance in society, men's professed inability to control sexual desire, and magic beliefs. Victims are traumatized by the abuse itself as well as by subsequent problems in family, health and in court. Since child sexual abuse may endanger the life and well-being of the child, it is a serious problem that requires urgent action.

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