Zimbabwe: Stiffer rape penalties needed

Zimbabwe: Stiffer rape penalties needed

Date: August 27, 2014
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Harare, 17 April: The Zimbabwe SADC Protocol on Gender and Development summit yesterday ended on a high note with stakeholders calling on the Government to review and make rape penalties stiffer.

More than 100 participants comprising of officials from local authorities, churches, non-governmental organisations and the media said the increase in rape cases was a sign of a crippling judiciary system.
Speaking during the summit, Gender Links Zimbabwe country manager Priscilla Maposa highlighted the increasing cases of rape, including of minors.

Women in Politics Support Unit (WIPSU) Director Sakhile Sifelani bemoaned the light sentences imposed of rape convicts. “I long for the days when it was norm to sentence rape convicts to at least seven years imprisonment. Nowadays rapists get away with community services or even fines for raping. We need stiffer penalties,” she said.

One of the participants, Tichaona Zironzo said rape was a hazardous scourge hindering development in many ways. “The increase in the number of rape cases especially perpetrated on juveniles calls for stiffer penalties. Men who rape should be punished and the judicial system should be consistent in passing judgements,” he said.

He added, “I wish all men would realise that it is also their duty to empower their spouses, sisters and daughters and even neighbours to ensure they are protected from all forms of violence. Men who rape are cowards and they need to stop abusing women and work towards improving the livelihoods of women.”

Sally Dura of Sally Women’s Institute also encouraged policy makers to make a provision of funding the rehabilitation and re-integration of both rape survivors and perpetrators back into the society.

“Our judicial system has let us down as women and girls in Zimbabwe. We need stiffer penalties for anyone who sexually abuses a woman and the judgements passed must be audited and assessed for the benefit of everyone. In fighting against rape we should also consider rehabilitating rapists back into their families and the community,” she said.

Recent reports show that cases of rape are on the increase in Zimbabwe and this has probed the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development to launch a nationwide rape campaign.

Women, through a petition circulated by the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), called for stiffer penalties for rapists earlier this year. They said, “We demand that the judiciary outline a clear schedule of sentences for rape and other sexual abuse, by setting a minimum and maximum sentence. No presidential pardon should be granted to rapists under any circumstances. All rapists must be subjected to a mandatory HIV test, if found positive, the sentencing must recognise and punish willful transmission.

They added that all cases of rape should be considered with the severity that they deserve. In line with the Zimbabwean constitution, a child below 18 does not have the capacity to consent to sexual intercourse. The WCoZ urged the judiciary to consider stiff custodial sentences on anyone who has sexual intercourse with a minor.

This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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