In equal measure: Government wants life sentence for women defilers

Steve Kayuni

In order to address the inadequacy of the law protecting of the boy child who suffers the same ordeal like little girls from sexual abuse, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has proposed introduction of life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for older women found guilty of raping boys.

Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni disclosed during an interaction with the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament.

“While there is no offence akin to defilement in the pursuit of the protection of boys from sexual abuse, the Penal Code has criminalised unlawful and indecent assault of boys under 14 years of age. However, this being merely an indecent assault offence, it only carries the maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment,” he said.


According to Kayuni, in the face of multiple cases of women sexually abusing young boys, the indecent assault law is inadequate to address the problem.

He said the particular sexual act does not fit in the general definition of both defilement and rape offences.

“Be that as it may, female offenders get away with lenient sentences when the effects on the boy are as grave as those that apply to girls when they are defiled.”


Kayuni said they want the offence to fall under section 155 of the Penal Code and that it would attract maximum sentence of life imprisonment, just as section 138 of the Penal Code is on the defilement of girls and rape under section 132.

Chairperson of the committee, Peter Dimba, said the disparities in offences against boys and girls have been a concern and the committee has been engaging the Law Commission , Judiciary and office of the DPP on the matter.

“Section 138 of penal code criminalises defilement of girls under the age of 16 and provides for a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while Section 155 of the same penal code criminalises indecent assault of boys under the age of 14 and provides for a maximum sentence of 7 years imprisonment, we feel this was not fair and are ready to have the penal code amended,” Dimba said.

Meanwhile, the Judiciary and the law commission on Friday agreed to review the legal framework on the issue.

Both Registrar of the High and Supreme Court of Appeal, Gladys Gondwe and Law Commissioner, Rosemary Kanyuka, said there is need to comprehensively review the sex offence laws, other than taking a piece meal approach.

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