Harmful cultural practices continue to be swept under the carpet in the UK and perpetrators use some sophisticated strategies to conceal violations of girls’ rights.
A recent case of a father from Johane Masowe WeChishanu Church based in Luton who raped his daughter for a period of over two years to get rich from extracting blood of a virgin daughter shows one of the most dangerous myths which have devastated many girls’ lives.
I am aware we are so accustomed to harmful cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriages and honour killings but silently myths like ‘virgins cure HIV and AIDS’ and ‘virgins make one rich’ are some harmful cultural practices that are not so much talked about, yet many men get such prescriptions from witchdoctors when they visit home.
After raping his 14 year old daughter and impregnating her, the man left for Botswana where he is said to be running a business in haulage trucks.
The case has clearly shown that we carry heavy buggage of our harmful cultural practices, attitudes and beliefs and we find the slightest excuse to use them against the weakest members of the family.
The fact that social services did not easily pick up the incest case goes to show tactics that perpetrators of such crimes use to mentally torture their victims and hold them as sex slaves whilst the system in the UK rehabilitates them economically and socially.
There are five girls in this family and reports coming out to us show that one or two girls may have been subjected to same sex slavery by the same father. Outside this family we are not so sure how many victims are there. The only way to help in these situations is to open platforms where girls could freely speak out.
I am equally concerned about many cases of girls brought to my attention here in the UK where the perpetrator is the mother’s boyfriend but most probably HIV positive. It is a commonly held myth that blood of virgins cure HIV and AIDS.
The fact that it has taken two years for a whole community in Luton to speak out shows that cultural beliefs still impose silence over rape of children and demonic rituals. Our silence endorses the act of rape, locks out the victim and labels her loose and prostitute.
Having a baby from her father further complicates relations between the two. The complication of this rape case could have been minimised by simply taking action to terminate the pregnancy and send the girl back to school.
To be raped is traumatising, but it is even more traumatising for the girl to live with her son as a rape product and a daily reminder of betrayal by her father.
I know when a motorist crosses a red robot the instant penalty is heavy. Equally when we have a rapist who is a father and has performed such a demonic crime we must give heavy penalties.
For two good years not one person stood up to stop this menace.
Now is the time to stand up and stop all these harmful cultural practices
By Betty Makoni,
Chief Executive Officer of Girl Child Network World Wide (GCNW)