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Compulsory virginity tests condemned

Girls last week spoke strongly against some Apostolic sects in the country who compulsorily test girls’ virginity, saying the practice violated their rights.

BY MOSES CHIBAYA

Speaking at the launch of an Apostolic Strategic Action Plan 2014-2016 by Union for Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (Udaciza) in Harare, the girls said the routine religious programme, popularly known as “musecho” among the apostolic sects should be abolished.

One girl, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said most girls were being sexual abused in churches.

“We are the most vulnerable at the church and the main culprits are the church leaders who usually abuse girls and even women under the pretext that they are casting out evil spirits,” said the girl.
She said a lot of cases go unreported because the girls or women were intimidated with death threats if they dare take the cases up with police.

Apart from being threatened, most of the girls were also ignorant about their sexual reproductive health rights, she said.
Another girl said those who are not virgins were then targeted by churches elders.

“Those girls who are discovered to have lost their virginity are targeted by men who then argue that they had nothing to lose because they had already lost their dignity through losing their virginity,” she said.

A consultant on sexual reproductive health, Caroline Maposhere said the compulsory virginity testing among the apostolic girls violated the children’s rights.

She said it was crucial to educate the young girls about their sexual reproductive rights so that they are not abused.

The RMG Independent End Time Message Church, led by alleged rapist Robert Martin Gumbura, was recently suspended by the Apostolic Christian Church Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) for allegedly practising acts that bordered on “Satanism” and abusing women.

ACCZ president, Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, claimed that he had watched video tapes in which Gumbura was being intimate with some church members.

In its strategic plan, Udaciza said plans to unlock opportunities that address issues of poverty and confront religious, cultural and socio-economic systems and practices halt progress and positive human development outcomes in the apostolic community.

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