Giving a testimony, the street child who is now a peer educator under the Streets Ahead, a non-governmental organisation dealing with homeless children, revealed that street children were under threat from people who were supposed to be protecting them.
“Both police and soldiers come in the night harassing us as to why we are on the streets and pretend to ask us about our identity documents. Young girls are raped within the vicinity of our bases, while defenceless boys are often sodomised,” said the boy who could not be named because he is a minor.
The young boy said the majority of the street children were seeking for treatment at local hospitals for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).
“Most of us are suffering from gonorrhoea, genital herpes and syphilis as a result of such abuses,” said the boy, adding the situation was worsened by the fact that the street children lacked knowledge of safe sex practices.
An estimated 12 000 street children are believed to be staying in the street of Zimbabwe, 5 000 of whom live in Harare.
Streets Ahead confirmed receiving street children who are infected by STIs including HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies. It said it registers at least 20 new children every month.
Once living on the street, children are particularly vulnerable; especially the girls who often risk back street abortions. These girls later suffer the trauma of dealing with the terrible impact of these abortions on their own health. Other girls keep their children. As a result of this Harare is beginning to see second and third generations of children who only know a community on the streets.