Zanzibar — WITH child rape and molestation cases reportedly increasing across Zanzibar Islands, parents and guardians have been advised to desist from settling rape cases in their homes, but to report the incidents to the police.
An official from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Zanzibar, Anuary Issa Duni issued the call during a workshop on the factors affecting gender equality in Zanzibar.
Mr Duni conceded that the number of rape incidents and child molestation reported have increased over the past few years, raising concerns over the safety of women and minors. But in most cases, accused persons have escaped the long arm of the law after families allegedly settled the matters out of court, suggested Mr Duni.
"It is true that more cases of rape are reported which points to rising sex-related crimes. But it is very important that we gather enough evidence in order to convict offenders. "Unfortunately, victims' parents or custodians often seek out-ofcourt settlements, thus, they are not ready to pursue the matter or testify in courts of law," said Mr Duni.
During the workshop, organized by Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) Zanzibar, some of the participants narrated sad rape stories involving children in the Isles. They blamed authorities over the increasing rape incidents, lamenting that most culprits were often set free.
Mr Ali Kombo, a Social Welfare Officer, Central District, Unguja, argued that the nature of the crime did not allow it to be left to the two parties to compromise and settle. He said that rape offences are heinous and serious and should be addressed accordingly.
He insisted that the compro mise reached between the parties should not be construed as a leading factor based on which lesser punishment can be awarded. The Director of TAMWA in Zanzibar, Dr Mzuri Issa called for increased efforts to protect women and people with disabilities, pushing for measurers against those who attempt to protect rapists by settling such cases out of court.
This amounts to condoning the crime. According to a Legal Officer, Miza Haji, a total of 189 Gender Based Violence cases were reported in 2016. Out of these 99 were in Unguja and 90 in Pemba.
"These included 110 rape cases, 29 unnatural offence cases, 19 molestation cases and 31 abduction cases," revealed Ms Miza, adding that there were 1,014 complaints related to sexual abuse on children both Unguja and Pemba (875 received in Unguja and 139 in Pemba).