Original Research - Special Collection: Africa We Want - Perspective from GJHHD

Prevalence and under-reporting of sexual abuse in Ruwa: A human rights-based approach

Conrad Chibango, Sheila T. Chibango
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 2 | a7976 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i2.7976 | © 2022 Conrad Chibango, Sheila T. Chibango | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 July 2022 | Published: 22 December 2022

About the author(s)

Conrad Chibango, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Simon Muzenda School of Arts, Culture and Humanities, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, Zimbabwe; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Sheila T. Chibango, Department of Midwifery, Nyadire School of Nursing, Mutoko, Zimbabwe


The under-reporting of sexual abuse reduces the chances of winning the battle against sexual abuse of women and children in Zimbabwe. It leaves girl children powerless and vulnerable, despite the country’s determination to put an end to injustice and gender discrimination in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 5, which focuses on gender and equality, and SDG 16, which is concerned with justice and peace. The aim of this study was to explore the barriers to reporting sexual abuse in Ruwa. Informed by the human rights-based approach, the study adopted a quantitative research design. Survey data were solicited from 51 randomly selected female respondents. Results revealed that 69% of the respondents were abused, yet only 2% of the total respondents reported the abuse to authorities, while 67% did not report incidences of abuse. About 98% of respondents believed that most sexual abuse cases in Ruwa went unreported. Results also showed that barriers to reporting sexual abuses comprised cultural and economic factors, most of which were characterised by shame, embarrassment, and fear, as well as the desire to protect male breadwinners. The results are consistent with existing literature generalisations on sexual abuse, particularly in terms of the prevalence of sexual abuse and under-reporting. It is also argued that culture is the determinant factor for most of the barriers to reporting sexual abuse, as well as the effects of reporting.

Based on the results and in view of promoting and protecting human rights associated with sexuality, the study recommends that local authorities and social institutions implement awareness programmes and campaigns on reporting sexual abuse in the community.

Contribution: This study is the first of its kind in Ruwa. Its significance is embedded in how it reflects on the role played by culture, religion and societal views on matters of sexual abuse.


sexual abuse; under-reporting; gender; human rights; culture; religion; Zimbabwe


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Crossref Citations

1. Child Sexual Abuse: Forensic Medical Assessment of the Traumatic Injuries Over the Victim’s Body
Biliana Mileva, Metodi Goshev, Mihaela Georgieva, Ilina Braynova, Alexandar Alexandrov
Cureus  year: 2023  
doi: 10.7759/cureus.49873