Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Parliament should amend the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act to provide long mandatory and deterrent sentence for rapists, the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, and Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development said.
This follows public hearings conducted last year to gather views on rape and other sexual offences.
The committee recommended standard sentences of 60 years for a rape conviction and life imprisonment for rape of a child or personal living with disabilities.
The report was tabled in Parliament last week and showed that an average of 21 women are raped every day in Zimbabwe with statistics showing an increase of 74 percent in the number of rape cases reported between 2010 and 2018.
“In particular, that the matter of minimum mandatory sentencing for rape needs to be addressed urgently, during this session of Parliament, given there is already minimum mandatory sentencing for livestock theft,” reads part of the report.
“This is evidence to show that it is not an impossible process. This will uphold section 51 of the Constitution as well as section 52 which specifically states that ‘every person has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources.”
The Committee also said the law should be amended to ensure that it has adequate provisions detailing sentencing guidelines which take into account all relevant factors.
“Such guidelines may need to be statutory to ensure that they are strictly adhered with. These guidelines on sentencing are important since they would guide the courts on the type of aggravating and mitigating factors to be taken into account as well as the weight to be given to different factors. This would ensure consistency and proportionality in rape sentencing,” the report further reads.
The Committee also recommended that raping or sodomising children and persons living with disabilities, in particular where the rapist is aware that he is HIV positive, should attract life imprisonment, while 60 years would be the minimum sentence for any rape conviction.
Government was also implored to strengthen the police and whole criminal justice system, through adequate provisions of financial resources, manpower and transport facilities, to improve the process of investigating and prosecuting rape cases.
The committee also said the operations of the Victim Friendly System should be improved and be decentralised to all provinces.