Rapists deserve tougher sentences


HARDLY a day passes without this newspaper carrying harrowing stories of rape of our women folk, particularly vulnerable children, by old men entrusted with providing them safety and security.

Southern Eye Editorial

Statistics made available by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency last year revealed that one in three girls is raped or sexually assaulted before she reaches the age of 18.

Just yesterday we had a story of a 61-year-old man from Matokolosi village under Chief Masuku in Esigodini, Matabeleland South, facing charges of raping his minor granddaughter in three separate incidents.

On Tuesday we ran another shocking story in which a 37-year-old Dete man was sentenced to 20 years for raping an 87-year-old granny.

A perusal of previous editions of Southern Eye indicates that the paper hardly goes to print without a rape story of children and women.

Feminists are adamant rape is prevalent in our society simply because we have failed to place adequate deterrent measures. We have had cases in which minimum sentences are in place for certain offences, such as cattle rustling, but with rape the courts are allowed to exercise discretion. The result has been lenient sentences, some of which are absurd.

With shocking rape statistics, the only remedy is punitive measures that deter would-be rapists. Quite simply, we must make such crimes not worth the risk. If rapists know that they can get away with a mere slap on the wrist, the problem will persist, grow and simply entrench itself into becoming the norm.

Additionally, rape is shrouded in secrecy to protect the victim from stigma and shame, hence placing a spotlight on it without human faces to the problem (because few rape victims would be willing to have their experience publicised or relive the trauma). This makes it seem like an abstract element until cases show up in the courts, at which point the tendency is to shame the victims and seek to excuse the actions of the perpetrator.

Rape is prevalent because we condone it by forcing young girls to marry their rapists, by trading a few cows as compensation to the victim’s families and by insisting that the victims are somehow to blame. It is impossible to imagine if rape carried a minimum sentence of say, 25 years, that any right thinking person would take that risk simply to relieve their sexual urges.

Indeed stringent deterrents are urgently needed to nip the scourge in the bud.