By NQOBANI NDLOVU
GOVERNMENT is formulating laws that will provide for mandatory jail sentences for rapists in response to a sharp increase in sexual violations, Parliament heard last week.
This is not the first time that authorities have revealed plans to punish offenders with a mandatory jail sentence as a deterrent against the vice. In 2017, government proposed a mandatory 60-year jail term for those who rape children and 40 years for criminals convicted of raping or sodomising people with disabilities.
Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises minister, Sithembiso Nyoni revealed in Parliament last Thursday that government was finalising laws providing for mandatory jail sentences for rape.
Nyoni said government was concerned about statistics of sexual offences, adding that long mandatory jail terms would be the only deterrent measure against the crime.
She said statistics provided by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) victim friendly unit showed that there were 1 222 cases of rape in the third quarter of 2020 and 1 274 in the last quarter countrywide.
“The Bills (Sexual Harassment Bill and the Gender Equality Bill) are expected to criminalise the offence of sexual harassment and provide frameworks for gender equality,” Nyoni said in a ministerial statement on sexual crimes and gender-based violence (GBV). The next one is the mandatory sentence for rape. The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs administers the Criminal Code Reform Act and it is spearheading the amendment of the Act to include mandatory sentencing for sexual offences.
“The drafting process has begun. However, the drafters have identified that most relevant stakeholders on the proposed law were not consulted, hence there was need for further consultations.” The United Nations says GBV is the most pervasive yet least visible human rights violation in the world.
It includes physical, sexual and mental violations with experts stating that one in three women will experience such violations in their lifetime.
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