OLIVER Mtukudzi has warned that home is “no longer a safe refuge” for abused kids as shock new police figures showed EIGHTY ONE children were raped over a seven-day period last month – in most cases by relatives.
Mtukudzi is calling on parents to be constantly on the alert for potential child abuse within the family.
“The problem that we have is that those who are supposed to take care of children, where they are supposed to seek refuge, that’s where there is a big danger,” Mtukudzi said, speaking at his 60th birthday celebrations hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
“Children no longer safe even at home; home is no longer a safe refuge for them.”
Mtukudzi was speaking last Friday, and on Monday this week his warning was brought home as police released shock new statistics about child rape.
Police spokeswoman Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said in the week ending September 25, police had dealt with 81 cases of child rape countrywide – up from 65 a week earlier.
More alarmingly, she said a majority of the cases involved relatives, and police are urging parents to exercise extreme caution when they leave their children with neighbours and the extended family.
"The rape cases are on the increase and evident from our investigations is the fact that relatives commit most juvenile rape cases," Assistant Commissioner Charamba said.
"The public on noticing such cases try to resolve them at community level and only report to the police when such attempts have failed. Rape cases, like most serious crimes, need to be reported to the police and attended to early so that evidence is not lost.
"Parents and guardians should also be careful when leaving their children in someone's custody. In most cases when a parent decides to travel, he or she might leave the child with neighbours and this is where they also need to be careful.”
Police have found a powerful ally in Mtukudzi, who is Unicef’s regional goodwill ambassador.
In an impassioned speech to an audience of children and child safety campaigners, the singer said: “Little girls are being raped. Where does the passion come from? I blame us men because we are supposed to be taking care of those children.
“If we want to have a future, we are responsible more than women to take care of the little sisters not abuse them. If it is done to my own daughter or my own son, how do I feel?
“Parents let us be our children’s protectors. To be a parent is having a child and bringing him or her up. It does not end at birth.”
In 2011, 3,172 rape cases of juveniles were recorded countrywide up from 2,883 in 2010.