Local courts and defilement
Published On March 5, 2018 » 2832 Views» By Evans Musenya Manda » Opinion
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WE are dismayed to note that local courts are handling cases of defilement and passing light judgment on defilers instead of handing over these cases to higher courts.
Yesterday we carried a story of a housewife of Lusaka’s Garden Township, who caught her husband having sex with her 14-year-old sister whom he impregnated.
Magistrate Pauline Newa granted the two divorce, with the man ordered to compensate his wife with only K5,000!
Where are the NGOs claiming to protect the lives of the girl child?
We are asking concerned authorities to revisit this case and many other cases that have been reported in the media to ensure justice is done for defilement victims.
In Zambia, a girl below 16 years is a minor under the country’s law, meaning that it does not matter whether she agrees to have an intimate relationship with a man or woman, the adult will be deemed to have committed a criminal offence.
Having an intimate sexual relationship with a girl aged 16 and below is simply stated as defilement which is a criminal act that should never be tried in a local court.
Girls are increasingly falling prey to lustful men and this should be a serious concern, especially with the prevalence of the HIV/AIDs pandemic which has been spreading in sub-Saharan Africa like bush fire.
Late last year, the Assertive Girl Zambia (TAGZ) Founder Caroline Lungu called for stiffer punishments on rape and defilement cases in Zambia.
In an interview, Ms Lungu stressed the need to reinforce current legislative laws to curb such vices across the country by providing tougher punishments on culprits which would send a strong signal to would-be offenders.
And Ms Lungu revealed that her organisation has since embarked on an awareness campaign Programme dubbed “I will not look away awareness walk” to sensitise the masses on gender based violence.
However, organisations like TAGZ are looking away from local courts were cases of defilement are being delegated to lesser offences usually classified ‘deflowering.’
We urge the government and all NGOs involved in protecting the rights of the girl child to compel legal practitioners in local court to look out for sexual offences against under-age girls.
The courts should never attempt to try these cases since they have no jurisdiction as these cases must be handled by higher courts vested with powers to mete out stiffer punishment.
UTH reported recently that the number of defilement cases being recorded has been on the increase and that now it’s an everyday situation, especially among girls between the ages of 12 and 14 years.
We are aware that child defilement has been in existence for a lot of years back, but with much awareness nowadays, we expect the trend to be going down instead of having an upward gradient.
There should be cause for fresh concern especially that the local courts, which should have long been sensitised about defilement are treating this serious offence with kid gloves and passing judgment.

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