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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Age of sexual consent under scrutiny

Story by Kenias Chivuzhe

CALLS have been amplified for the country’s courts to come up with stiffer penalties for drug peddlers and perpetrators of rape, especially those targeting children.

Public consultations on the Prisons and Correctional Services Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Amendment Bill that took place in Mutare this Thursday were dominated by the issue of drug abuse and child sexual exploitation with the public calling for stiffer penalties.

A participant said, ‘‘Some drugs are from far away places, yet they find their way into the country. There is need to ensure more attention is directed towards preventing the drugs from entering the Zimbabwean space.’’

Another noted, ‘‘We have religions that support early marriages with parents supporting such practices. Women are raping young boys after enticing them with money. We advocate that the penalties should get stiffer to discourage the bad practices.’’

‘‘I propose that the people convicted of raping under age girls should be given life sentences,’’ said another.

Others called on the authorities to create a template on the sentence given to people who commit certain crimes.

“We have crisis on sanctions because of people who utter reckless statements about their country. There is need for much harsher sentence to discourage treasonous crimes against the country,” urged a participant.

Parliament is satisfied with the input from the public particularly aligning the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Amendment Bill to the constitution in terms of adjusting the age of sexual consent.

Legislator, Honourable Chido Sanyatwe said, ‘‘The consultations are moving on well with people giving their views especially with regards drug abuse. The major issue coming out is that drug peddlers should be dealt with and be given stiffer penalties to effectively stop the scourge. There are also calls for stiffer penalties on rape cases.’’

Another legislator, Hon. Innocent Gonese noted, ‘‘The amendments seek to broaden the definition of dangerous drugs to include those that are not under the drug list. We are also hearing the views of the people of Zimbabwe regarding the issue of raising the age of consent following the Constitutional Court directive for Parliament to enact such a law within 12 months. This is not part of the two bills, but we have been receiving contributions in that aspect.’’

The public consultations will see several sections of the laws being amended, particularly Section 70 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, which did not classify child sexual exploitation as rape.

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