Zim Rape Law Not Protecting Minors Against Sexual Predators

CIVIL Society Organizations have come out guns blazing against High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi who recently granted a 26-year-old sex worker Precious Teya bail after ruling that the 13-year-old boy whom she had engaged in transactional sex with was actually a willing participant.

By Michael Gwarisa

In an interview with HealthTimes, Padare/Ekundleni Men’s Forum Programs Officer Jonathan Memory said the   law should be applied without any prejudice and both the girl and boy child should be treated equally at law.

There are issues that are there with this bail ruling which was handed to the sex worker. Number one, we acknowledge that the magistrate erred in that we as adults, we are supposed to protect minors and the court in that context did not protect the minor who is 13 and 13 is just but a child.

“So in other words we are saying the court did not consider this because you cannot say there was consent. You cannot consent with a child or with a minor. This is an adult having sexual relations with a minor so the issues of consent they automatically fall away because this is just but a 13-year-old boy,” said Memory.

He added that in this particular case, there was abuse which occurred online where the sex worker was sending pictures of sexual nature to the young boy and this according to Padare/Ekundleni was not given the attention it deserves during the court case.

“The fact that pictures of sexual nature were sent to the minor boy that again was abuse. Then for one to then say I saw the stature that he looked like a man, we need to be sure especially when we are talking about consent, we need to be sure the person that I am getting into sexual relations with is he a minor or is he an adult. I think in that context there was that need to ascertain the age of this boy.

“Just like if this had happened to a 13-year-old girl, we would be up in arms as well we should be up in arms. We should be angry that the woman had sexual relations with a child. Those are some of the issues that we are also responding to. Then in terms of saying this boy consented, how can a child consent, what are we saying, if the constitution is saying the age of consent is 18 even the prevailing laws before the amendments, they are saying the age of consent is 16 and this boy is just but 13 then really, we should be angry.

“We need to protect both the boy and girl child. As much as we are protecting the girl child, we need to also to give that space to the boy child, we should be seen to protect our children. So the courts and the state institutions should protect minors.”

However, the country’s Sexual Offenses Act acknowledges that a boy or girl above the age of 12 can willfully consent to sexual intercourse. Katswe Sisterhood Director said those who make the laws are reluctant to push the age of sexual consent to 18 because they are benefiting from the chaos hence the rise in incidences where minors are being abused and perpetrators are protected by law.

“We have been singing about pushing the age of consent to 18 but do people listen, NO! Why not? Because most of the men are sex predators target girls and they don’t want a shift in the status quo because this law benefits them. Now that one boy has been affected, all of a sudden, the men in this country remember that a 13-year-old is a minor,” said Jumo.

Meanwhile, speaking at a media workshop, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) Director, Abigail Matsvayi said the Zimbabwean law states that a woman cannot rape a man. She however said this doesn’t necessarily mean a woman cannot sexually abuse a man and the penalty for sexually abusing men is equivalent to that of rape.

“In terms of the Criminal Law Codification and reform Act, it defines rape as sexual intercourse that has happened without consent whereby a male is raping a female. I think this one is important because there were times when we were reading cases in the newspapers about women raping men.

“If you look at the dialogue around that, yes it looks like rape to all of us but in terms of the law, a female cannot rape a man. Only the male organ can penetrate the female organ without consent. If we are reporting cases like that, we need to be aware of this and that’s not to say men are not sexually abused by women. They are, but in terms of the definition of the law, that will not be categorized as rape, that is termed aggravated indecent assault which still carries the same penalty as rape cases but its termed differently,” said Matsvayi.

 

 

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