This 18th November, on the World Day for Prevention, Healing and Justice to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents, a new report from Family for Every Child highlights the underreported issue of sexual violence affecting boys in Zimbabwe; in an effort to improve the lack of understanding around this topic.
Family for Every Child is an alliance of local civil society organisations working with children and families. This report was developed by one of these member organisations, the Farm Orphans Support Trust in Harare, whose ongoing work with children and families in their communities means they were able to draw on deep, context-driven knowledge and significant community engagement to develop this research. The report concludes that sexual abuse of boys in the communities studied is likely to be significantly under-reported, and that major gaps occur in the legal framework and in support services to help those affected in Zimbabwe. It also uncovers a number of key factors that can lead to sexual abuse of boys, including the effect of harmful social norms, poverty, ritual beliefs and other drivers. “Some of us have talked about lack of services for boys who are victims of sexual violence in Zimbabwe. This means more needs to be done, because we see girls being taken care of when they are abused, but we as boys have no one to help us. It’s unfair, because it seems as if our being abused does not matter, it is only the abuse of girls that is important.” – Interview with a Zimbabwean boy The study adds to our growing body of locally-led research into sexual violence affecting boys, which we have also undertaken in Cambodia, Guyana, India, Nepal, Philippines and South Africa. Individually, each report highlights the importance of cultural- and context-driven responses to tackling this issue rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ global approach. Nevertheless, they all share a common desire to draw more attention at a global level to what is often a taboo subject. Family for Every Child will continue to push for greater efforts to tackle sexual abuse of boys through initiatives such as our Blue Umbrella Day campaign, which will take place for the second time in 2022. Download the full report from our resources section. Other in-country reports are available in the RISE Network group section of our Changemakers for Children platform, which you can join for free at changemakersforchildren.community.