WOMEN have called for stiffer penalties for rapists following growing concern of rape incidents in Zimbabwe especially in the Matabeleland region.
In a statement this week police said a number of women and girls are continuously being raped by known relatives, friends and landlord.
Last year Musasa Project petitioned Parliamentarians to impose a mandatory sentence of between 30 and 60 years for rape, to curb the scourge in Zimbabwe.
Statistics from the Zimbabwe Gender Commission show that 22 women are raped daily, one in every 75 minutes. On average, 646 women are sexually abused monthly, with one in three girls raped or sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18 years in Zimbabwe.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have also raised concerns over the rising number of rape cases which was worsened by COVID-19 induced lockdowns since last year.
Bulawayo Spokesperson at Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Inspector Abednico Ncube called on residents to desist from leaving young girls unattended as they risk being sexually abused.
“We have noted with concern that a number of women and girls are being raped by known relatives, friends and landlords in different communities. As police we remain committed to bringing them to book as women deserve to live in crime free communities,” he said.
“We call on members of the public to report all rape cases even when committed by trusted family members.”
Concerned mothers added that lockdown measures had made it easy for perpetrators to pounce on girls.
Victoria Sibanda from Gwanda said police need to do campaigns around communities as rape is under reported.
“Our girls have stayed at home for a long period without school which has exposed them to abuse. In rural areas abused children could not access SRHR services due to closure of schools and travel restrictions which explains why we having so many reports coming now that the restrictions have been relaxed,” she said.
For Thobekile Mabhena, women rights organizations should continue lobbying for stiffer penalties to be given to rapists.
“The girl child is already facing a lot of challenges and we cannot continue letting rapists go free,” she said.
“We also have parents and guardians who do not report rape cases perpetrated by their loved ones. Such cases need investigations and we should ensure such parents are treated as co-rapists so that we eliminate these abuses.”