Call for stiffer penalties for rapists as pastors criticised

A cross-section of Zimbabweans are calling for stiffer sentences to deter child rapists, saying this would send a clear signal that government is committed to the protection of children.

“The justice delivery system is letting us down because the rapists are bribing their way out of prison.” – Sekai Pfidze.
“The justice delivery system is letting us down because the rapists are bribing their way out of prison.” – Sekai Pfidze.

According to a statement released by the Anti Domestic Violence Council, there is increased sexual violence against women and girls under the age of 16. The ADVC revealed that the majority of the perpetrators of such acts were related to the victims.

Read a statement by ADVC: “Of the 2012 January to June figures, 1,553 of the victims were girls under 16. This year, the number has increased to 1,628 during the same period. A total of 773 women over the age of 16 were raped during the same period last year compared to the 812 who were raped this year.”

The organisation attributed the increase in child rape to religion and culture.

“Some of the perpetrators are committing rape as a ritual, while others have blamed evil spirits and alcohol. Some of these people believe that having sex with either a minor or virgin will help them cure HIV/AIDS,” read the statement.

Sekai Pfidze from Mabvuku in Harare said the high rate of child rape cases was an indication that the justice delivery system was failing citizens. Said Pfidze: “The sentences for rapists are not punitive and this is why people continue raping minors. The justice delivery system is letting us down because the rapists are bribing their way out of prison.

“There should be life sentences for those that rape minors and this will send a clear message that government does not tolerate such behaviour in Zimbabwe,” she added.

Kudakwashe Gumbodete concurred with Pfidze, adding that poor living conditions contributed to the high incidences of rape cases.

“Poverty is forcing citizens to live pathetic lifestyles. Families are sharing a single room and there is no privacy any more such that the extended family members are housed in one room with minors,” he said.

Gumbodete said because of the harsh economic environment, parents left their children with guardians who ended up abusing their children.

“Child-headed families are the order of the day and children are growing up without the guidance of parents. This makes them vulnerable to abuse and the majority of them do not report these cases because they do not know how to handle such issues,” he said. Millie Musariri called on government to ensure swift administration of justice to ensure that rape victims received help.

“If the cases are pending at the courts, this traumatises the victims even more. Government should close all the loopholes for corruption within the justice delivery system, and members of the police force found conniving with the perpetrators should face the full wrath of the law,” she said. Chikwaka Chirume from Harare said rapists did not deserve space in society and called on government to ensure they were removed from society.

“I do not believe that anyone who rapes a six-year-old can be integrated into society,” said Chirume. “Such people do not deserve space in society and they should get life sentences.”

Pastor Stewart Dhliwayo from the Pentecostal Faith Life said the church should play an active role in moulding people’s morals to ensure a decrease in the incidence of rape cases.

“It is disturbing that there are pastors who are raping women and girls, yet they are supposed to be playing the important role of championing women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights,” said Dhliwayo.

He said the problem was that many people choose pastoral work for the love of financial gain rather than the well-being of their flock.

“It is the duty of the church to mould society’s social fabric and raise awareness against child sexual abuse.”

Post published in: News

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