via Seduction damages: How does one prove seduction? – The Zimbabwean 25 September 2015
Having previously discussed what seduction damages are and the reason why they exist at law, this article will focus on how one can prove they were seduced.
Under customary law, because it is the father who claims seduction damages, it is not a requirement for him to show that his daughter was a virgin. He only needs to show that the man he is suing had sex with his daughter without his permission. Even if the seducer offers to pay lobola he is still bound to pay the damages. These damages are called dhemeji/idhemeji and where marriage takes place they are a separate amount from the actual lobola payment. Under general law, the rules are different.
The woman must prove that she had sex with the man that she claims to have seduced her and that she was a virgin before having sex with him. If the man admits to having sex with her, she wins her case. If the man denies having sex with her, then the woman must prove that sex took place.
How can she prove that they had sex?
She must show that there was penetration by the man using his penis into her vagina. She does not need to prove that the man ejaculated. She also does not need to show that the ejaculation resulted in the breaking of her hymen (taking away her virginity).
Is there need for corroboration?
Now don’t let that big word confuse anyone. Corroboration simply refers to the evidence that supports a story. In seduction cases the courts can accept the supporting evidence of one (1) competent and credible witness. A witness is competent if they are above 18 years of age and do not have a history of mental illness. Their credibility (whether the court can rely on their evidence) is assessed in each case, based on the strength of their testimony. Lying to the court is a crime. It is called perjury and can result in 5 years in prison or Level 10 fine or both.
How can she prove she was a virgin?
A woman claiming seduction damages must also show that she was a virgin at the time that she had sex with the man who seduced her. How does one prove they WERE a virgin? The law says that once the woman proves that she had sex with the man and that she was a spinster (not yet married) then she is presumed to have been a virgin.
The law also says the man can contest this by showing prior ’immoral’ conduct on the part of the woman. Immoral here means he can show that she had sexual relations with other people before him.
So does it mean that once a woman says she was seduced, the man admits he had sex with her or she proves he had sex with her then that’s it, he is bound to pay damages?
Actually; no, there is more. A man can deny that he seduced the woman. He can do this if he can show that in fact the woman was the one who seduced him or if he can prove that she prostituted herself with him. It is not enough however for the man to say because he gave the woman gifts (car, house, clothes, money) and she then had sex with him that she prostituted herself. If the woman accepted the gifts or presents and the man cannot prove that she gave away her virginity in exchange for the gifts; he is still guilty of seducing her.
If the woman continues to stay or cohabit with the man in the full knowledge that the man is unable or unwilling to marry her then she cannot claim seduction damages after they break up. If however she continues to stay with the man believing that he will marry her, her action remains intact. She could actually claim seduction damages from him for breaking his promise to marry her.
Offering to marry the woman suing for seduction damages is not a defence for the man being sued. The fact that the woman claiming seduction damages has had sex with other men after the man who seduced her is also not a defence for the man being sued for seduction.