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Government will soon introduce a mandatory 30-year sentence for rape, as Zimbabwe accelerates its efforts to reduce rape and sexual abuse, a Cabinet minister has said. Speaking at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence commemorations in Harare last week, the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Cde Oppah Muchinguri, said the proposal would soon be presented to Cabinet for deliberations.

“Once Cabinet adopts the proposal, raping children between zero and 12 years, and sodomising and raping, where the rapist knows that they are HIV positive will now attract life imprisonment while 30 years would be the minimum sentence for any case of rape.”

Cde Muchinguri said the proposal came about after a series of consultations with the Cabinet inter-ministerial committee on rape and sexual abuse as well as various stakeholders involved in gender based violence across Zimbabwe.

“The committee came up with a position paper on causes and effects of rape and subsequently came up with a national action plan to curb rape and sexual abuse, which is on the increase.

“The research by the inter-ministerial committee revealed that rape is on the increase due to lack of deterrent and stipulated minimum sentencing. This has resulted in inconsistent sentencing as judges and magistrates are left to exercise their own discretion, hence the proposal on mandatory sentencing,” she said.

Cde Muchinguri singled out the case of a Buhera man who was acquitted after raping his two daughters aged 13 and 15 for lack of evidence, saying the case reflected a miscarriage of justice.

“We want to address the legal system and ensure that our women and children are protected by the law and rapists and other sexual abuse offenders get deterrent sentences.

“We cannot continue to have a situation where stocktheft is considered, a much more serious crime than rape.”

She called on churches and traditional leaders to continue to be the vanguard of societies and address the problem of gender based violence in communities.

“Addressing gender based violence as reflected in our theme should start in the home and at community level, where our churches and traditional leaders are. They have a role to inculcate and instil good values, something we have always been grateful of.

“They have been working hard in their respective communities. They should do more,” she said.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence commemorations are held annually across the globe to raise awareness of the problem of gender based violence in communities. The commemorations kicked on November 25 and end on December 10.

Source : The Herald