Perceptions about child sexual abuse in relation to virgin cure among convicted prisoners in Lusaka
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Sexual abuse of children of all ages, including infants, happen everyday all over the world (Faulkner, 2006). Despite stiff measures taken by Zambian government to reduce sexual abuse cases, incidences of defilement are not reducing but are higher than rape cases (UTH, 2006). The literature reviewed showed that child sexual abuse is a national, regional and indeed global problem especially in view of the HIV/AIDS pandemic which has made the situation complicated. This was the reason why this study on perpetrators was important since much is known fi-om the abused but the abusers have rarely been studied.The purpose of the study was to explore convicted prisoners' perceptions about child sexual abuse in relation to virgin cure. It was hoped that the findings of this study would provide policy makers and programme administrators with a better understanding of why child sexual abuse is on the increase. The information from this study could be used to develop educational strategies and modify existing messages so that child sexual abuse could be reduced.This was a qualitative study that was carried out among the inmates in Lusaka Central Prison. Eighty nine males aged between 17 and 80 consented and participated in the study. Data were collected using a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) guide and the discussions were tape recorded. A total of twelve Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted with the inmates. Each group comprised 6-12 respondents with similar characteristics. An in-depth interview was held with the only female sexual abuser convict at the time of the study. Prior to the main study a pilot study was conducted in the Lusaka Central Prison.The data were collected from 21th to 24th January 2007. Data were analyzed by performing content analysis. Content analysis involved an analysis of the content narrative data to identify prominent themes and patterns among the themes. The analysis of data was done as an ongoing process, integrated with data collection and coding. The audio-taped FGDs were fully transcribed and translated into English and compared with the field notes. Open coding was done line by line and paragraph by paragraph. Similar responses were grouped together into categories and regrouped into subcategories. Data were constantly compared through out the process of coding.The findings revealed that children who were vulnerable to sexual abuse were orphans and street children who lacked basic needs including food and shelter. The age group that was identified to have more health problems was five years and below. The health problems included tearing of the private part, STIs and HIV/AIDS, and mental health problems. The study showed that the main factor that made the children vulnerable to sexual abuse was poverty.According to the findings of this study child sexual abuse had some benefits for the sexual abuser like sexual relief and "virgin cure" therefore, any man could be a sexual abuser. The study findings revealed that sexual abuse of girls aged ten and below was ritual sex for "virgin cure". Virgin cure included supernatural powers for Nyau, cure of diseases like STI, HIV/AIDS, to get rich fast and to be sexually cleansed after a loss of a spouse or after a miscarriage.The study revealed that the nation has adequate laws and policies that protect the child and therefore, the existence of child sexual abuse was attributed to the laxity in the law enforcement agents. Therefore, the study recommended that law enforcement officers ensure that the laws are observed.
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