Illegal mining activities in Matebeleland South’s Esigodini area have led to increased Gender-Based Violence, GBV cases as well as child pregnancy.
Bulawayo based Women Institute for leadership, WILD had a meeting with Esigodini residents where these issues were raised.
“The purpose of the meeting was to educate Habane (township) residents on GBV and how as citizens we can mitigate against this pandemic.” WILD communications officer, Bridget Ndlovu said.
“Over the years, residents in Habane have been sharing that there is a rise in GBV with many young girls becoming victims of GBV.
“We thought it is necessary that we engage residents and try to raise awareness on this important issue, particularly for women and men. We invited men because it is important to have them so that we can eradicate this GBV.”
Habane councillor, Patson Sibanda said GBV cases were not being properly handled in Esidodini due to the pandemic.
“Some of the cases were not effectively attended to but as the lockdown is easing up, some of these cases are now being taken care of and referred to the police,” Sibanda said.
“The most serious issue is the girl child and this lockdown has given them free time to roam around and some of them have been impregnated. We are emphasizing parents not to shun those little girls that are pregnant, they should go to school as it is their right.
Sibanda said residents were worried that artisanal miners were being linked to these GBV cases and exploitation.
“These illegal miners have money and they are manipulating young girls. There is also the issue of overcrowding in houses due to the influx of these illegal miners,” he said.
Esigodini Residents Association chairperson Gift Ndleya said many schoolgirls were being impregnated by illegal miners.
“Esigodini is a place where there is money due to mining activities,” Ndleya said.
“If only government can help us, we are not saying we do not want outsiders but what is happening here is out of hand.
“Our children are being abused and this affects their future. Many of these children are now pregnant or are now someone’s wife at a young age. Children should not be made to work as breadwinners when parents are there. They have to go to school. Parents should also educate their children on issues of GBV.”
Plan International Zimbabwe representative Faithful Mangena said some parents were concealing their children’s pregnancies.
“Some parents do not care about the future of their children. When the perpetrator is a relative, most of these cases are being hidden.
“Families wanting to protect their family names, hide those issues and that affects the confidence of girls at school. Parents also fail to educate their children on reproductive health and rights.