AT least 15 women are raped daily in the country, according to latest statistics supplied by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Office (ZimStat).
However, there are fears that the number could be higher as some cases go unreported.
The ZimStat report, titled Quarterly Digest of Statistics, says 2 195 cases of rape were reported in the first five months of the year. But it is in May where the statistics are gory, as 470 women were subjected to sexual assaults. This translates to 15 women being raped daily or an equivalent of one woman abused every 90 minutes.
Evince Mugumbate of the Women and Aids Support Network (WASN) said the high figures were testimony to the work women’s groups were doing in educating people on their rights and to report cases of abuse.
“Before, there was shame and stigma associated with reporting rape, but more women are more educated and are coming out to report,” she said.
“Women are now enlightened, educated and brave to report these cases.”
Mugumbate said it was a scary thought that women were being raped, but the statistics did not capture the whole picture as a number of cases went unreported.
The statistics reveal that in January, 427 women were raped, while in February 428 were abused.
In March, 425 women were abused, with the number rising to 445 the following month and peaking at 470 in May. However, this could be a slight improvement from 2011 figures, where a total of 5 449 cases were recorded — easily the highest figure compared to the two preceding years.
In 2010, 4 450 cases where reported while in 2009, 3 481 cases were recorded.
Mugumbate challenged the government to do more to look at the reason why the cases were high and what could be done to bring incidents of rape down. Also during the first five months of the year, 940 cases of indecent assault were recorded, as compared to 472 in the corresponding period in 2011.
A total of 1 610 cases of indecent assault were recorded in 2011, with 2 484 and 1 124 in 2010 and 2009 respectively. Anele Ndebele of the Matabeleland Aids Council said the statistics were a cause for concern as it invariably meant there was an increase in the transmission of HIV.
“You tend to believe that when rape takes place there is no protection and this may in turn lead to an increase in the rate of HIV transmission,” he said.