The Herald (Harare)

1 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Women Demand Stiffer Rape Sentences

Women's organisations have petitioned Government and the Judiciary to impose stiffer penalties for sex crimes. This follows an increase in rape cases with the latest statistics showing that at least three women are raped in the country every day. Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe director Ms Virginia Muwanigwa said stiffer penalties were critical in deterring crime.

"We are also concerned by the increasing reports of abuse by authorities within religious institutions. We are requesting the judiciary to consider the highest sentences for sexual offenders and also outline a clear schedule of sentencing for rape," she said.

Ms Muwanigwa implored Government to establish a well-resourced unit that supports survivors of rape.

Padare/Enkundleni director Mr Kelvin Hazangwi said rapists were supposed to be punished severely, especially if they infected their victims with HIV.

"Rapists should go through a mandatory HIV test and if found positive the sentence should be stiff, considering that the person would have wilfully transmitted HIV to their victim," he said.

Police say between January and December last year, about 1 050 women were raped, translating to at least three women raped daily.

In 2011, 3 172 rapes of juveniles were recorded countrywide, while 2 883 were recorded in 2010.

Of all these victims only 2,4 percent received treatment and support.

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