By Staff Reporter
Women Affairs Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said the level of public service delivery related to sexual and gender-based violence during the Covid-19 pandemic has witnessed unprecedented incidents of rape.
Presenting a report on the Level of public service delivery related to sexual and gender-based violence in the National Assembly on Thursday, Nyoni pointed out that most cases go unreported at the community level.
“The Victim Friendly Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police received 1 222 cases of rape in the third quarter of 2020 and in the fourth quarter they received 1 274 cases country wide,” Nyoni told legislators.
“Alarming figures of rape of girls below the age of 18 with a total of 836 girls, 17 years and below, were raped in the period October to December 2019.
“And in the same period in 2020, 900 girls were raped and these were reported cases.
“We still grapple to understand the real magnitude in view of unreported cases as the Committee has rightfully pointed out that most cases go unreported at the community level.”
Min Nyoni said the ministry would scale up community level awareness raising with the aim of encouraging the reporting of such incidents especially where minors were the victims.
“The community has to know that it is criminal to withhold such information as well as failure to report abuse and rape of minors,” she said.
Nyoni said there was need for a mandatory sentence for rape.
“The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs administers the Criminal Code Reform Act and it is spearheading the amendment of the Act to include mandatory sentencing for sexual offences,” she said.
“The drafting process has begun.
“However, the drafters have identified that most relevant stakeholders on the proposed law were not consulted, hence there was need for further consultations.”