WOMEN Affairs minister Oppah Muchinguri told Parliament yesterday the ministry was seeking to amend the Domestic Violence Act to increase the mandatory jail term for rapists to 30 years following reports that a total of 1 628 girls under the age of 16 years were raped last year alone.
Muchinguri was giving a ministerial response to the gender-based violence motion which was introduced by MDC-T Harare West legislator Jessie Majome.
She also said the ministry was planning to train MPs and chiefs in mitigating rape and domestic violence in their communities.
“Rape cases are on the increase as according to ZRP statistics 1 940 cases were reported in 2011 while in 2012 the figure rose to 10 871, and in 2012 under-16 girls raped numbered 1 553 and the figure rose to 1 628 in 2013,” she said.
“My ministry will continue to monitor sentencing trends to ensure there are mandatory sentences for rapists and the Domestic Violence Act will also be reviewed to ensure mandatory sentences of at least 30 years are imposed, as well as implementing the Zimbabwe National Gender-Based Violence Strategy of 2012 which was developed as a guiding framework for all stakeholders,” she said.
Leader of the opposition MDC-T in the National Assembly Thokozani Khupe said her heart bled when she saw the girl rape victims aged between 10 and 18 years who were brought to Parliament a fortnight ago by Musasa Women’s Project to observe how MPs were tackling debate on gender violence.
She said the abused girls were likely to suffer vesico vaginal fistula, a condition that would cause uncontrolled leakage of urine as a result of rape and protracted labour because they were children.
“When a child grows in an environment of rape and domestic violence exhibited by their fathers, it means they will build boxes where they are imprisoned and at the end become drug addicts, rapists or wife barterers,” she said.