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3 in 10 female border jumpers gang raped: Report

by Staff Reporter
20 Nov 2012 at 04:45hrs | Views
THREE out of 10 Zimbabwean women are gang-raped while trying to illegally cross the border into South Africa through undesignated entry points along the Limpopo River.

This was revealed in a detailed report by Professor Lesiba Matsaung, founder of the United Reformed Church (URC) Nancefield Shelter for abused women and men in Musina, South Africa.

According to the report, the URC centre handles between 20 and 30 females and 30 to 50 males weekly.

"All of them jumped the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa illegally. Some of the females are as young as 13.

"On arrival at our centre, some of them tell us that they were gang-raped along the border while others are raped soon after entering Musina by people who lure them to secluded areas after promising to help them with shelter, jobs and food," said Prof Matsaung.

Prof Matsaung noted in his report that most of the victims who disclosed their ordeals were young women.

He said the elderly women, especially married ones, were not willing to share their painful experiences for "fear of being dumped by their partners or husbands". "In most cases young women are the ones who share their horrific experience with us. We then take them to Musina Hospital for treatment. We also have trained people who offer counselling to the rape victims.

"We also noted that out of fear of victimisation from the perpetrators, some women choose not to reveal their experiences, as they would be traumatised and ashamed. Some just reveal their ordeals just for the sake of accessing treatment," said Prof Matsaung.

The report, which described the rape incidents as horrific, further revealed that some of the people,

who came to the shelter, were suffering from sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and Aids.

"Some of them come in a critical condition and they ended up dying," read the report.

The facility started operating in 2008 and targets stranded border jumpers, mostly rape victims who are temporarily accommodated at the centre.

"Some of the victims arrive at the centre on their own while others are accompanied by police, social workers and officers from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)," said Prof Matsaung.

Due to the overwhelming number of sexually abused women coming to the shelter, Prof Matsaung said they have since opened a section which only accommodates rape victims where they also access special treatment and counselling.

Since 2008, Musina has been recording a high number of Zimbabwean irregular migrants who included vulnerable unaccompanied children and abused men and women.

Most of the women and girls are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence while unaccompanied children would have left or lost contact with their families on their journey to South Africa.

According to MSF an average of 16 border jumpers were being raped and robbed every month as several Zimbabweans continue to stream into the neighbouring country through undesignated entry points.

MSF, which is also known as Doctors Without Borders, has since established Sexual and Gender Based Violence Clinics in the border towns of Musina and Beitbridge mainly targeting in-transit truck drivers, commercial sex workers and sexually abused irregular migrants seeking STI treatment, trauma counselling, tetanus, HIV and Aids tests and anti-retroviral post-exposure prophylaxis.

Source - TC