By Thobekile Khumalo
Young girls and women in Zimbabwe are living in fear with the surging rape and murder cases.
Last week in Bulawayo Prosper Buhle (29) was arrested for 17 rape cases involving young girls between the age of 16 and 21 years and Bright Zhintali (30) was arrested in Goromonzi for 9 cases of murder and rape.
Rudo Magwanyata Research and Advocacy Coordinator at Shamwari yemwanasikana said as an organisation they believe in order to curb the surging rape cases certain measures should be put across.
“As an organization we believe the government should put measures across to ensure that girls and women are protected. As women we need to live in a society where it’s safe for young girls and women to move around without fear of being attacked by anyone and I believe the government can do that by capacitating the law enforcement agents because they need to know what the law says and respond to cases timeously.
“One can find out that when you report a case the police tell you to come forward with the suspect. How can one come with a man who has abused her to the police station yet it’s the job of the police and law enforcing agents to apprehend suspects. We need the government to put an emphasis on the protection of women and an emphasis on the police serving us as a nation. They are there to apprehend suspects and apply the law as it is law,” she said.
She added that there should be a mandatory sentence for every perpetrator proven guilty.
“As far as I’m concerned our laws on perpetrators are unfair that is why we have a call for our courts and laws to having mandatory sentences so that we know that each perpetrator who is found guilty gets a minimum of so many years and not having a system whereby by the sentencing of perpetrators is according to the discretion of the magistrate or judge.
“The need for mandatory sentences as a country is that a message is sent to perpetrators so that if they are to ever commit a crime they will face the long arm of the law and they will face a certain period of time in jail before they get parole or are pardoned,” added Magwanyata.
She said that there is a need for information dissemination and women should be taught self defense classes.
“There is a need for information dissemination so that women know what to do when faced with such situations. I like to believe that in some countries women are given self defense classes, we need that in Zimbabwe, we need women to be able to defend themselves, we need them to know where to report and get assistance.
“With the increase of femicide in South Africa women were encouraged to walk around with paper sprays , we need that in Zimbabwe so that when a woman is being attacked she can spray the person in the eyes and escape if she has chances to do so,” said.
She added: “We have Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that are there to help and we have CSOs that work directly with our ZRP that make sure that cases are reported and everything is done in the right procedure. However the problem is that most perpetrators are people that women trust and it becomes hard to respond to a situation in such a manner. Women need to know that if faced with such a challenge they go to the police and a certain organisation to get the assistance they need in reporting the case and getting the legal and psychosocial assistance they need. We need more information dissemination so that women know where to go and who to approach. When women and girls have been victimized or fallen victims to such they need all the support they can get, they need the psychosocial support to deal with trauma, women are faced with post traumatic stress disorder. Once a woman or girl has been victimised their whole being changes so they need all the support they can get. They need to reach out to organizations like us Shamwari Yemwanasikana, Msasa and get professional help and get counseling and the medical attention they need to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases.”
National Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they are concerned with the rising numbers in rape cases and are working with stakeholders to ensure women safety.
‘Police is not working alone, we work with stakeholders which include traditional leaders and the church. We need to make sure that educated people are conscientised and that they also do not have to respond to messages that at the end lead to them being taken advantage of. “
He added: “Women should not also go in secluded places alone because when we look at the Marondera rapist he was taking advantage of such pretending he’s in love with the women, some of them attacking whilst they are praying, some of them he met at nick clubs then went with them home to only to rape and kill along the way. The Bulawayo one he pretended as if he’s been sent by relatives to deliver goods then says let’s go and get them and in the process rapes these young girls”.
He said that communities need to be alert of such cases.
“We also need the community to be alert and as the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) we have since intensified patrols and investigations,” he said.