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Death penalty scrapped for women


The final draft constitution spares female murderers from the hangman’s noose as it states that no woman shall face the death penalty.

The draft, completed on Wednesday, partially abolishes the death penalty with the exception being in “cases of aggravated murder”.

It also abolishes the death penalty for those under 21 years of age and those above 70.

Human rights activists and organisations, including Amnesty International have been lobbying government to abolish capital punishment and the exemption of women appears to be a compromise to appease the activists.

Section 4.5 of the new constitution reads in part: “A law may permit the death penalty to be imposed only on a person convicted of murder committed in aggravating circumstances, and the penalty must not be imposed or carried out on a woman.”

But a person sentenced to death will have the right to seek pardon.

The courts will have the discretion over whether or not to impose the penalty.

Abortion remains illegal unless if the pregnancy is terminated in accordance with the law.

Fred Misi, the national chairperson of Varume Svinurai, a men’s representative organisation, said it was unfair for the new constitution to protect women only from the death penalty.

“I think it’s not fair,” he said.

“We are saying all human beings are equal before the law but if you then say a woman who commits murder will be protected and a man who commits murder is hanged, then there is no equality.

“Obviously it’s not fair.

“We were trying to eliminate discrimination against men and women but once you separate the two, there will be discrimination.”

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