The advent of social media in Zimbabwe has seen the easy and quick dissemination of information within and outside the country.
However, there have been instances where social media has been used to violate the rights of other citizens, including children.
From the 24th of February 2021, social media has been awash with the news of a woman who had sexual intercourse with a 13 year old boy in Harare. Whilst the name of the child was not mentioned at first, subsequent articles circulated on social media published the name and school of the minor child. The LRF notes with concern the publication of the child’s name in this matter which may result in the shaming, bullying and ostracisation of the minor child.
The LRF states that:
- A child is a boy or girl who is below the age of 18 years and their individual acts or behaviour do not take away their status of being a child.
- Children have a Constitutional right to protection from sexual exploitation and all forms of abuse.
- The Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06] prohibits the publication of the name, address or school or any other information likely to reveal the identity of any child or young person who is or has been concerned in any proceedings in a children’s court.
- The Courts & Adjudicating Authorities (Publicity Restriction) Act [Chapter 7:04] prohibits the publication of records of Court proceedings involving persons under 18 years to protect their welfare
The LRF asks members of the public to exercise restraint in further publicising the matter thereby causing further harm to the minor child involved.
Source: Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)