The new General Laws Amendment Bill recognises early sexual activities by children under the age of 16 as it is proposing that they should not be prosecuted for having sex with each other. Gweru residents yesterday immediately blasted the bill saying the age of sexual consent should be raised to 18 years. In their submissions to the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Portfolio Committee on the General Laws Amendment Bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill during a public hearing at the Gweru Theatre, residents said it was un-cultural, inhuman and un-African to allow children under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activities without getting punished.
The chairperson of the committee, Jessie Majome, said: “We are here to get your views. The General Laws Amendment Bill will not prosecute boys under 16 who engage in sexual intercourse with girls under that age.” She said Section 70 of the Code (sexual intercourse or performing indecent acts with young persons) prevents the sexual exploitation of young persons.
“It, however, recognises sexual intercourse between young persons under the age of 16. It is implicit from the wording of this section that only adults may be prosecuted for this crime, because the subject of the crime is a ‘person’ and its object is a “young person” (defined in section 61 of the Code as a person below the age of 16).
“However, it is in society’s interests to protect all young persons from being “sexualised” prematurely, regardless of whether the perpetrator is, for instance, a boy of 15 who has “consensual” sexual intercourse with a girl of 13,” Majome said.
He said it was sad to note that society wanted to acknowledge early sex but that would result in the country raising spoilt children. “Our children will lack discipline, once they start engaging in sex they will not stop and we can’t allow that,” said Apostle Nyerenga.
Precious Mujere from the ZCTU said girls were starting their menstruation cycle at the age of 12 and by not punishing boys who indulge in sexual intercourse with them, the country would see a surge in teenage pregnancies and unwanted babies.
“If we agree to this we are promoting early pregnancies, early child births and early marriages. So perpetrators should be brought to book,” she said.
The General Laws Amendment Bill (H.B. 3 – 2015) seeks to amend 126 statutes in order to align them with the new Constitution. Major statutes to be amended under this Bill are the Electoral Amendment Act, Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Interpretation Act and Trademarks Act.
Key issues that the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill (H.B. 2 – 2015) is seeking to address are; rights of arrested people, private prosecution, police powers in relation to arrest, use of force, search and seizure, death penalty, bail and sentencing.