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Another child failed by the justice system
Justice for Children Trust
November 25, 2011

The News Day of 24 November 2011 had a story, which we are believing is correctly reported, of a 22 year old man who sodomised a 16 year old boy from 2008 until July 2011. The man would threaten to beat the boy if he reveals the sodomy. He was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 12 months in jail by Binga Resident Magistrate. We are grateful to the media for highlighting such cases which show how Zimbabwe's justice system is failing children. This is notwithstanding the laws that have been enacted to protect children.

This man was not supposed to be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced of sodomy in light of the reported facts and the law. Properly he should have been charged of a more serious offence of aggravated indecent assault which is provided for in section 66 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. That offence is committed by a male person who has anal sexual intercourse with another male person without the latter's consent, as was in this case. The offence attracts the same sentence as rape, which is up to life imprisonment and not a mere 12-month imprisonment for a person who committed such a heinous act upon an innocent boy.

The report states that he abused the boy from 2008 until July 2011. He should have been charged with multiple counts of aggravated indecent assault, which would have potentially translated, to a very lengthy imprisonment term. The Police, the Attorney General and the Courts must protect both the girl and the boy child. This is what is in our law, which appear to be unknown to some of the officials who should implement it. The media therefore should also play the critical role of educating the public on child protection laws and continue to report cases in a child rights sensitive manner.

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