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Many a woman in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) continue to suffer from traumas of sexual abuse she went through when she was but a child.

Sexual abuse of children in Southern Africa is on the increase especially among the rural populace. The perpetrators usually have all manner of senseless reasons for their actions. For example, the main causes of sexual abuses in Zambia include the myth that children are HIV free and therefore sex with a child can cure HIV and AIDS. There are some who believe that sex with children can bring success to a business. Other causes include failure by caregivers or guardians to acknowledge and recognise the rights of children and treat them as equal partners. The situation is getting worse every day as cases of violence against children are reported on a daily basis. Even more cases go unreported.

In Zambia, many girls fall victim to a gruesome form of sexual abuse known as “kunjilila” whereby a male sneaks into the hut or a dwelling of a girl and have sex. This is done without the consent or prior arrangements with the girl. This practice is prevalent in rural areas, and most common amongst adolescent girls who sleep in separate huts.

For instance, in Chikankanta District in the Southern Province in Zambia, a woman code-named ‘Barbara’, at age 23 still remembers a nightmare of her life when she was forced to have sex with an unknown man who jumped into her hut. The fateful night was when she was in grade nine (9). She thinks life is not worth living especially when one is sexually abused in her sleep.  She survived the sexually transmitted diseases but did not survive the trauma that haunted her 10 years after the event. About 50 percent of the youth (both boys and girls) in the area, have their first sexual encounter through kunjilila. The boys said for them, it proved manhood and that it is part of their lives.

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