MORE than 12 000 child abuse cases were recorded last year alone and Government will continue making strides in strengthening child protection systems in the country, an official has said. Director of child welfare and protection services in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Mr Togarepi Chinake said the statistics showed an increase in children who needed help from different forms of abuse. He was speaking during the handover of an emergency call centre and three dropin centres to Childline Zimbabwe by Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Yoshi Hiraishi yesterday.
“Last year the helpline responded to 12 068 child protection cases which was an increase from 6 234 cases they recorded in 2014,” Mr Chinake said. “These protection cases are then followed up jointly with my Department of Child Welfare and Protection Services thereby strengthening the working cooperation between the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Childline Zimbabwe.
He applauded Japan for supporting Childline Zimbabwe by constructing three dropin centres to upgrade the case reporting capacity of the tollfree helpline — 116. “The operations of the dropin centres in Gweru, Chiredzi and Mutare districts were also expanded by the establishment of child friendly counselling spaces that will support the provision of child protection counselling services being offered by Childline to the survivors of child abuse,” Mr Chinake said. “Children are our collective responsibility and are the future of our nation; in placing them at the top of our agendas we ensure a better and brighter future for us all. I call upon and rally everyone here present to make child protection a priority.” Speaking during the same event, Mr Hiraishi said Japan was in support of protecting the vulnerable groups mainly women and children in Zimbabwe.
“The issue of protection of vulnerable groups, in particular women and children, is one we, as the embassy, take seriously and we have made conscious efforts to intervene in positive ways to help alleviate their plight,” he said. “We sincerely hope that this project will ultimately contribute to the empowerment of these vulnerable people and to their relief from difficult situations.” Mr Hiraishi said the construction of both the call centre and three dropin centres cost more than $80 000. Statistics from Childline Zimbabwe show that Harare recorded 28 percent of national helpline cases while Matabeleland South had the least with 2 percent.