Gender advocacy group Msasa Project has called for stiffer penalties against perpetrators of sexual violence following varying sentences being meted out to convicted criminals.
Speaking before members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender at stakeholders meeting in Harare recently, Musasa Executive Director Precious Taru said there is need for deterrent sentences against perpetrators of sexual violence.
“Sexual violence is there. It is a heinous crime that has been there for many years and we believe that as stakeholders we need to take a step further and fight for women’s rights especially on issues around sentences that are deterrent enough for this heinous crime to be addressed,” said Taru
She said her organisation had noted with great concern, over the years, the varying sentences being handed down to perpetrators of rape and sexual violence and how this has led to no clear message on the gravity of the crime being sent to would be offenders.
“The main reason we have varying sentences is because there is no mandatory minimum sentence for these crimes, the sentencing is at the discretion of the magistrates,” she added
Stakeholders at the Policy Roundtable Meeting on the Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Rape and Sexual Violence made deliberations calling for custodial sentences without the option of a fine or community service.
“We are calling for a mandatory sentence of 60 years and a custodial sentence without the option of a fine or community service in cases involving minors and people with disabilities. Minimum sentences for first time offenders should also be considered for adult survivors however, that should be subject to variations based on each and every case where force has been used or the age of the person raped,” noted the stakeholders
Stakeholders said stock theft has no special circumstances as the court has no choice but to impose nothing less than the minimum mandatory penalty of nine years’ imprisonment.
The call comes hardly a week after President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivered his State of the Nation Address calling for the immediate amendment of the Children’s Bill.
“The prevalence of abuse and violence against children place a demand on us to quickly guarantee their protection. As such the children amendment Bill must be quickly passed by the August House. Our criminal justice system is urged to impose deterrent sentences to perpetrators of heinous and evil acts against our children.” said President Mnangagwa