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Crisis Report - Issue 242
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
November 29
, 2013

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Society calls for stiffer penalty for rapists

Societal leaders have called for stiffer penalties for those who commit sexual offenses as the country marks the 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence.

Speaking at an event organized by Msasa Project in collaboration with The Women’s Trust and supported by many other civil society organisations in Harare on Thursday, November 28, Gender, Women’s Affairs and Community Development Minister Oppah Muchinguri called for stiffer penalties for rapists.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is paramount to note that as government we are committed to addressing cultural and traditional challenges of impunity on issues of rape and violence against women and girls,” Muchinguri said.

“We need to engage with all stakeholders in particular parliament to reflect on the sentencing of rape perpetrators.

“The sentence should reflect our disgust towards rape and sexual violence; send a clear message that rape or any form of sexual violence will not be tolerated now or any time in Zimbabwe.”

Muchinguri said she agreed with Parliamentarians who are calling for stiffer penalties against rapists. Muchinguri condemned women who cover up rape on young girls in order to protect their spouses and added that families should be cautious enough not to expose girls to rape by leaving them in the custody of suspicious men.

Muchinguri said domestic violence and sexual harassment was driving some young girls from their homes into the streets.

Netty Musanhu, the director of Msasa Project spoke out against a culture of impunity among perpetrators of rape.

“Ruzhinji madzimai anouya kuMusasa anotaura kuti mapurisa anotengwa. (Most of the women who come to Musasa say the police are being bribed),” Musanhu said. “Hanzi kumacourt vari kutengwa. Saka dhora rakakosha pahupenyu hwe mwanasikana? (They tell us that the courts are being bribed. So do we mean that money is more important that the life of the girl child).

“Minister muna 2008 vakadzi vakarepwa zvikanzi ipolitics tikaramba takanyarara zvikapera zvakadaro. (In 2008, women were raped and we were told it was be-cause of politics, and the perpetrators enjoyed impunity.)”

It is alleged that many women were raped during the political violence that was perpetrated by the security forces in the period leading to the 2008 presidential election run off.

In a speech read on his behalf by his son, Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi said rape was “satanic” and any church leaders who perpetrated rape were “wolves in sheep skin”.

Chief Chinhamora, a member of the Chief’s Council, who represented the Council’s President Chief Charumbira, said even married men should not force their wives into sexual intercourse as that constituted a violation.

British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Deborah Bronnert said there was significant under reporting of rape cases and the crime has been “tolerated far too long, in far too many countries” describing it as “a global pandemic”.

Ambassador Bronnert said violence against girls and women was a global pandemic, which has resulted in one in every 3 women, being beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. The Ambassador said women, men and children have a right to live in a world free from fear of rape and sexual violence adding,

“Today we come together to declare that rape and sexual violence needs to stops”.

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