Upsurge in child rape in Oshikoto

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Staff reporter

Ongwediva-A lack of parental supervision was identified as one of the contributing factors to the rape of minors in Oshikoto Region, the police have established through investigations.

Oshikoto regional crime investiagations coordinator Naomi Katjiua said many a time children are left with untrustworthy family and non-family members who perpetrate such hideous crime. Katjiua said this in an interview with New Era in response to two separate cases in which three minors were recently sodomised in Oshikoto.

At Onyaanya, Oniihandhi village two girls aged five and 13 years were allegedly sodomised by their 20-year-old uncle who lived in the same house as his two victims. Their guardian was at church at the time of the incident on Sunday.

In a separate incident a 19-year-old cattle herder allegedly sodomised a two-year-old boy at Onashikuvu village in Omuthiya. The incident took place on Tuesday last week.
During the same month a 13-year-old girl was reported to have been raped by her grandfather while another school-going child, aged 12, was allegedly raped by a stranger on her way home.

Last year alone, Oshikoto had recorded 95 cases of rape involving minors, news agency Nampa reported earlier this year. The majority of the rape victims were minors aged between six and 16, while the suspects ranged in age from 18 to 72 years.
Katjiua said while rape of minors is alarming, recorded rape cases are ranked sixth in the region, with assault topping the crime list.

“This is an indication that our awareness programmes are working, because people no longer conceal rape,” Katjiua said.

According to a 2007 supplement by Unicef on the state of the world’s children, about 45 percent of rape cases are committed under the influence of alcohol. This coincides with Katjiua’s view that many rape cases amongst adults are influenced by alcohol intake.

“You will find that some suspects drank with the victims and throughout the drinking monitored their movements and attacked them when going home.  Others are ambushed on their way home from cuca shops,” said Katjiua.

In addition to alcohol-related cases, others are attacked in broad daylight or dragged out of their rooms when in bed to sleep.

The commissioner pleads with perpetrators and would-be perpetrators to refrain from treating women as sex objects.

A local psychologist who requested anonymity said rape suspects are usually known to their victims and in most cases are people they have a close relationship with, including their biological parents.

She said in many instances teenage rape suspects are either abused, grow up being sodomised or were in their youth lured into sexual activities by elders around them.
The psychologist further said the myth that having sex with a minor could cure HIV still exists in the community, listing that as a contributing factor – “or why else would we have HIV-positive parents sleeping with their biological children?”

“Then we have those who have witnessed elders have sex and they try it out. While others have heard about it and then try it out. But in the absence of a willing partner they tend to rape. This is an indication that we need to teach the young about the consequences of rape but most importantly on the dangers of early sex,” she warned sternly.

“The biggest fear among parents now should be people who are entrusted with children for out-of-home activities and who deliberately work on their feelings in their quest to lure them into having sex with them,” the psychologist said.
She said the bright side of things is that children who are exposed to sexual abuse are counselled promptly if the matter is reported “but there are still issues that go unreported”.

She further said  traditional ties in the community have led to many cases going unreported for fear of creating enemies with acquaintances, while several cases are withdrawn and the victims’ families compensated monetarily.

“But the money does not take away the pain or even the trauma and because of these compensations victims are prohibited from sharing their plight and so may never find healing, which affects their relationships with men later in life,” the psychologist added.
Katjiua said that unlike in the past, women today “brave through until their cases are finalised”.

Another big challenge in Oshikoto is when the suspects are Angolan nationals employed as cattle herders in the community.

Once granted bail these Angolans abscond and often change their names, which makes it hard for the police to trace them.

“With one employer they are Johannes Johannes but when they relocate they change to Andreas Andreas and that is a challenge,” said Katjiua.Katjiua blames such abscondment on the slow implementation of e-policing.

“Our system is very slow when it comes to fingerprints. And e-policing is being rolled out a snail’s pace. Not all the regions are connected. Else we were going to have fingerprints of the suspects on the system and they can be apprehended wherever they are,” said Katjiua.

But when a suspect is available throughout the trial the justice systems slaps them with good years, Katjiua related.

Under the Combating Rape Act of 2000 the sentence for a first time offender is between five and 15 years depending on the circumstance of the rape.

A repeat offender is sentenced to between 10 and 45 years depending on the circumstances, while the maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment.

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