Maputo — Mozambique's national police spokesperson Pedro Cossa on Tuesday expressed his concern at the escalation in the number of cases of women and children being sexually abused. According to Cossa, "this is an evil phenomenon that must be stopped as soon as possible".
Cossa revealed that at least five rape cases are reported every week, with many cases going unreported by the victims or their parents.
In Mozambique it is a common practice, particularly in the rural areas, for the victim's family to reach a settlement with the perpetrator, which consists of compensation though money or cattle.
The situation is worst in the central province of Zambezia, where at least two cases of sexual abuse are reported every week.
The police spokesperson demanded harsher penalties for the perpetrators of sexual abuse of minors. "The courts should hand down tougher sentences to discourage these acts because this is an evil seed growing in our country", he said.
Speaking at his weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Cossa said that over the last week four cases of rape have been reported to the police. Two of the victims were only five years old, with another being a 92 year old woman who was raped by her son.
In most cases of child rape the attacker is either a family member or someone close to the family.
Under current legislation, the rape of a minor under 12 carries a maximum penalty of 8 to 12 years imprisonment. The sentences are higher when the offender is related to victim.