TECHNOLOGY is fuelling child sexual abuse because most of the violence against children is being committed online, a Judicial Services Commission (JSC) official said on Friday.

By Harriet Chikandiwa

Speaking at the launch of the multi-sectorial management of sexual abuse and violence in Harare, JSC secretary Walter Chikwana said benefits derived from technological advancement tend to be outweighed by negative vices such as online sexual abuse.

“Benefits generated by technological advancement tend to be blighted by abuse of that technology in promoting sexual abuse and violence. Numerous cases of sexual and gender-based violence particularly against children are committed online. This realisation again prompted us to include online safety issues in the revised protocol,” Chikwana said.

He paid tribute to donor organisations, among them the European Union, United Nations Population Fund, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, United Nations Children’s Fund and Irish Aid which are helping in the fight against child sexual abuse and gender-based violence (GBV).

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Chikwana lamented underfunding of the JSC which was affecting the justice delivery system.
“The budget allocated for the operation aimed at alleviating the plight of survivors and the prosecution and trial of sexual abuse and violence offenders remains inadequate in our view,” he said.

“Stakeholders should prioritise the core mandate aspects and consider allocating more resources to key operators such as renovation of the Victim Friendly Courts equipment such as television monitors, recording machines and anatomically correct dolls.”

Chikwana further said sexual abuse and GBV remained a threat, not only in Zimbabwe, but worldwide and there was need to have more victim-friendly courts.

Acting Chief Magistrate and chairperson of the victim friendly system, Munamato Mutevedzi advised men to visit the victim-friendly units because a significant number of them were suffering in silence after being sexually abused at home by their spouses.

“The number of male adults who have been assisted under the victim-friendly system remains negligible yet this facility is also available to us in situations where we are subject to gender-based violence,” he said.

“At times it is acceptable that a significant number of us are exposed to gender-based violence and sexual abuse. Men generally feel ashamed to report cases of sexual abuse.”