Presenting a motion where she was calling for stiffer penalties for perpetrators of GBV in parliament last week, Harare West legislator, Jessie Majome called on government to equip police stations with forensic rape kits.
Said Majome: “Rapists get off the hook because we continue to use poor primitive and inefficient investigation methods when dealing with rape cases.”
“We do not use scientific evidence such as DNA and we overly rely on viva voce evidence and the evidence of witnesses.”
Majome said because there are instances when victims get threatened by the perpetrators or fail to accurately relate events leading to the rape, rapists are walking scot free.
“Sometimes they will not be believed for all sorts of reasons,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police reported that between January and October 2013, 3 421 rape cases were reported to the police.
Police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri last year revealed that the ZRP had recorded a 6 percent increase in rape cases for juveniles and 3 percent for adults.
He said it was disturbing to note that crimes of passion and cases of rape against defenceless juveniles continued to rise.
The Director of Public Prosecution in November last year advised that his department had handled 1 059 rape cases.
Said Majome: “We have a weak legislative and legal response to rape and other forms of GBV. Rape is notorious for being one of those most under reported crimes where less than 20% of any of the rapes that occur are ever reported.”
She attributed under reporting of rape cases to the lenient sentences that are passed to perpetrators of all forms of GBV.
“There are serious discrepancies in the law and procedure in sentencing perpetrators of gender based violence,” she said.
According to the country’s first Violence Against Women Baseline survey, 68 percent of the 3 326 women interviewed admitted having experienced some form of violence in their lifetime, while 46 percent of the 3 274 men said they had perpetrated some form of violence in their lifetime.
In its analysis of the progress and challenges towards achieving gender equality by 2015, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe and Gender Links reported that institutional systems to prevent, respond to and provide support services to GBV survivors are weak and are geared more towards children than women.
However, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development states that it is the responsibility of state parties to ensure that by 2015, they would have enacted and enforced legislation prohibiting all forms of GBV.
The protocol states that government should ensure that it puts in place laws on GBV that provide for the comprehensive testing, treatment, and care of survivors of sexual assault and review and reform their criminal law and procedures applicable to cases of sexual offences and GBV.Post published in: News