Zimbabwe Cracks Down on Child Sexual Abuse with New Law

New law imposes 10-year jail term for child abusers

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe has taken a bold step to protect its children from sexual predators by raising the age of consent from 16 to 18 years. The new law, which came into effect on Friday, imposes a 10-year jail term for anyone who has sexual relations with a person under 18, regardless of their gender or marital status.

The law was introduced by the government using presidential powers, after a shocking revelation that the country had no legal provision to prosecute cases of statutory rape and sexual exploitation of minors. The legal gap was exposed by a recent High Court case, in which a man was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl, but could not be charged because the relevant sections of the Criminal Law Code had been declared unconstitutional in 2022.

The Constitutional Court had ruled that the Criminal Law Code violated the rights of children by only protecting those under 16 while leaving those between 16 and 18 vulnerable to abuse. The court had given the Parliament of Zimbabwe 12 months to enact a new law that would align with the Constitution, which defines a child as anyone under 18 and guarantees their protection from sexual exploitation.

However, the Parliament failed to meet the deadline, and the legal provisions safeguarding children became null and void on May 25, 2023. This created a dangerous situation for the country’s youth, who could be preyed upon by pedophiles and predators without any legal recourse.

The government acted swiftly to address this legislative crisis and closed the loophole that had made Zimbabwe a haven for child abusers. The new law sets the age of consent at 18 and applies to both heterosexual and female homosexual sexual activities. Male homosexual activities, even hand-holding, remain illegal in Zimbabwe.

The National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe (NPAZ) announced that it would prosecute all cases involving sexual intercourse and indecent acts with young persons under the new law. The NPAZ also urged the public to report any cases of child sexual abuse to the police.

The new law has been welcomed by various stakeholders, including child rights activists, religious leaders, and civil society organizations. They commended the government for taking decisive action to protect the children of Zimbabwe and called for more awareness campaigns and education programs to prevent child sexual abuse.

Zimbabwe is not the only country in Africa that has raised the age of consent in recent years. In 2021, Nigeria increased the age of consent from 11 to 18, while Kenya did the same in 2019, from 16 to 18. These moves reflect a growing recognition of the need to safeguard the rights and well-being of children, who are often the most vulnerable members of society.

Zimbabwe’s new law is a significant achievement for the country, which has been plagued by political and economic challenges for decades. It shows that the government is committed to fulfilling its constitutional obligations, and to ensuring a safe and secure future for its young citizens.

Source: iHarare


You may also like

white logo with motto

The Zimbabwe Advocate is more than just a news outlet. We are a movement, a symbol of resistance against misinformation.

Latest News

© 2024 The Zimbabwe Advocate. All Rights Reserved.