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Child Rape - A cry from Africa

Friday, August 3, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

By Eric Wayman
Special Correspondent to Assist News Service

Costa Mesa, CA (ANS) -- An appalling epidemic of child rape is emerging in sub-Saharan Africa. This region, roughly the lower one-third of the African continent, is all ready being decimated by AIDS. Now recent crime statistics reveal a growing epidemic of rape involving young children.

According to a recent report by the South Africa Police Service, children (under the age of 18) are the victims of 41 percent of all reported rapes and attempted rapes. Even more disturbing is the fact that over 15 percent of the total reported rapes are against children under 11 years of age. In the year 2000, an average of 58 children were raped every single day. (Pictured: Seven-year-old girl from Gwayi River, Zimbawe faces difficult future).

The South African Press Association reported one incident in which a nine-month-old baby girl was gang raped and required a full hysterectomy plus further surgery in order to repair intestinal damage. Six men, between the ages of 22 and 66, were charged with rape and indecent assault against the infant.

She is just one of 21,538 rapes and attempted rapes against children reported in 2000. This marks a dramatic 300% rise in reported cases from 1994 (7,559 cases reported). However, despite this staggering increase in reported child rape, authorities believe that a large percentage of incidents still go unreported.

The AIDS epidemic has left an unprecedented number of children parentless and vulnerable to abuse. Henry Nel, executive director of the ROCK of Africa Mission in Zimbabwe, states, "We are seeing a tragic devaluation in the lives of little children. The life of a precious little girl is becoming mere medicine for a dying man."

Today, in Zimbabwe, nearly one-third of all adults are infected. The average woman has a lifespan of just 36 down from 65 just ten years ago. In five years experts say the life expectancy could drop as low as 27. Yet despite the rampant spread of the virus and its tragic impact on sub-Saharan Africans of all ages, many are denying the disease's very existence.

"There is a deadly element of mistrust of western culture," Nel explains. "An acronym for AIDS, American Information to Destroy our Sexuality, demonstrates this. We must train and equip local people to deliver the real truth about AIDS."

Among the most important things Christian relief organizations bring to suffering sub-Saharan Africans is truth and hope. Herschel Gulley, president of The Gulley Foundation of Peru Indiana, asserts, "Missions, churches and Bible schools have become vital emergency clinics of hope in this desperate region."

Glen Megill, president of ROCK of Africa Mission, asks, "Can condoms bring hope to a dying man? No. If we cannot bring hope, we cannot really help. Any solution absent Jesus, His plan for our lives, His comfort for our pain is totally inadequate. Jesus is the real medicine for this weary land. The United Nations is obviously not equipped for this task. Instead, the church must respond." (Pictured: Glen Megill, ROCK of Africa Mission President with Mission Pastor Bizeki Chirongo).

Will the church hear this cry from Africa?

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