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CSOs call for stiffer penalties for rapists

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Civil Society Organisations have called upon the Judiciary to give stiffer punishments to rapists as one way of curbing such cases in the country.

The calls follow the recent rise in cases of defilement across the country. In the month of January alone, police have recorded more than 15 cases of rape, 11 of which being defilement cases.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director, Timothy Mtambo, argued that the offenders should be given stiffer penalties to send a strong message to would-be offenders.

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“These criminals should not be living in a normal society. There is need to give them stiffer punishments which, I believe, will help control the situation because other people out there will know how serious this crime is,” Mtambo said.

Mtambo observed that Malawi has good laws that protect children and those that prosecute defilers. He, however, said that there is need to sensitise and empower the public with knowledge of these laws as he believes there are a lot of people suffering silently.

Coalition for the Empowerment of Women and Girls Executive Director, Beatrice Mateyo, added weight to the calls, saying stiffer penalties would help bring positive change in society.

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“More needs to be done, in terms of punishment that are given to offenders. We hear of some cases where a defiler is given four years. Would that stop people from committing the crime?” Wondered Mateyo.

Commenting on the calls, Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, Agnes Patemba, said the Judiciary would look into the issue.

“In the past, offenders were being sentenced to five years [imprisonment] but there were calls to give stiffer punishments. The courts have been sentencing offenders to 10 years [imprisonment] or more and it appears nothing is changing. So, as the CSOs are saying, if people feel like those sentences are not stiff enough, then we need to look into it,” Patemba said.

However, Patemba appealed to CSOs to help in sensitising people on issues of defilement, their consequences and the impacts on victims, saying the penalties alone may not be effective in combating the vice.

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