This, surely, is not the way to handle victims of rape and related sexual violence. For the country to deal with the unending and apparently rising cases of rape, defilement and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, the authorities, from the grassroots to the national level, must show commitment to dealing with this criminality through action and desist from empty rhetoric.

Sexual violence, which especially targets women and girls, and sometimes boys, must be dealt with at all fronts. And the fight must go hand in hand with placing victims at the centre of it — the healing, protection and seamless reintegration into the society to ensure that after the trauma, they will lead a normal life.

It is the duty of the leaders to guarantee the welfare of such women, children and men.

I often come across concerns and frustrations from individuals, especially those in the women’s rights movement or are colleagues in the media, who wonder aloud why sexual violence continues unabated, and even appears to increase, in the face of so much sensitisation and “empowerment’’ efforts in communities and nationally.


But I dare say that people who should know better and are in positions of leading the way in fighting this horrendous violence and protecting the victims do just the opposite. They are in the Judiciary, provincial administration, schools and even families. Through their misguided or even deliberate decisions, they expose children and women to sexual violence and trauma by their acts of omission and commission.

I know of a case where a magistrate has ordered that a child who is under protection at a safe house after she was defiled by a much older man at an estate be taken back home — to a hostile community, with the abuse still fresh in their minds.

It is time we devised a comprehensive strategy of protecting the vulnerable against such violations and take good care of the victims.

Ms Rugene is a consulting editor. @nrugene

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