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The number of children sexually abused by adults motivated by superstition has increased dramatically in the Mozambican province of Manica, local police told VOA.
Many men rape children, often grandchildren, stepdaughters and nieces, thinking that this will facilitate their illicit enrichment or cure AIDS, among other baseless justifications.
“We are noticing a resurgence in child rape,” Manica police spokesman Mario Arnanca said, adding that there is evidence of witchcraft in recent cases.
Police figures indicate that three cases were reported to authorities in Manica in July. Several others were reported during the first half of the year.
The latest case came on Friday, 5 July, when a 19-year-old man was detained by the Manica Police for sexually assaulting six of his nieces, aged between one and eight, allegedly to cure AIDS.
The suspect was reported by his sister, mother of three of the victims, after one of her children told her, and she discovered confirmatory evidence.
“The young man was arrested on Friday, when he had just abused one of the children in the bathroom of the residence, and was reported by another minor (also a victim) who caught him in the act,” Arnança explained.
The minors were the daughters of two of the suspect’s older siblings, living in two houses on the outskirts of Chimoio, the provincial capital.
On Wednesday, July 3, a 46-year-old man was detained by the Republic of Mozambique Police (PRM) for raping his three-year-old stepdaughter, reportedly as part of an enrichment ritual.
The rapist, unemployed, took advantage of his mother’s absence to commit the crime as the child lay down to rest after a meal.
Last week Monday, police detained two other youths accused of raping two 15-year-olds and one 17-year-old girl, allegedly to increase his business’s profits.
Speaking to VOA, Cecília Ernesto, an activist with the non-governmental organisation Levante Mulher e Siga o Caminho, strongly condemned the upsurge in rapes and called for a change in societal reaction to the phenomenon.
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