Male rapists in Zimbabwe are to learn the hard way as parliamentarians
have proposed a new law to castrate them but are silent on what should
happen to sexually abusive women. In 2006, a similar bill was dropped by the Kenyan parliament after arguments suggested future abuse. In the Czech Republic, however, a law that backs surgical castration, as opposed to chemical castration, which is used by several countries, is still in force.
Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Olivia
Muchena told parliament on Thursday that rape should be treated like
first degree murder and have castration as part of punishment.
Said Muchena “ … we need to seriously look at the option of castration for those who rape minors. Just as we have different levels of punishment, the same should be applied on those who rape children. “How do you rape a child? It should be treated like first degree murder and have castration as part of punishment” she said.
Currently, Zimbabwean courts hand a sentence of about 10 years for rape.
Muchena’s motion attracted debate in the chamber, with 10 MPs rising to make contributions. Her call received cross-party support in scenes reminiscent of Kenya’s parliament in 2005 when MPs unanimously passed a motion calling for convicted rapists to be castrated.
However, some Zimbabweans feel that if such a law sails through it would be abused by some women by falsely accusing men of rape. “Though it’s a noble idea to castrate rapists, but that can be abused by some women and cause problems in the society. What if the guy is castrated only for the women to say she lied, will the man get compensation?” asked Gift Masai.
He also asked what would happen in the case of women raping men. “There are men and boys who have been raped by women and that have
been said in many court cases, so would there be a similar law to deal with women rapists?” asked Masai. “How would women feel if some guy argued that female sex offenders have their breasts cut off and their private parts
permanently sealed?” He added.
“In some countries, rapists are given the choice of either castration or a long prison sentence. Those who choose castration get minimum sentences and return to society minus their ‘gun’ (penis), which before had been their dangerous weapon,” added Monica Chirau. Indeed, the bill has been compared with a similar law in the Czech Republic, a EU member country.
In February this year, the Council of Europe’s Anti-Torture Committee urged the Czech Republic to immediately put a stop to its practice of surgically castrating convicted sex offenders indicating that “surgical castration is a mutilating, irreversible intervention and cannot be considered as a medical necessity in the context of the treatment of sex offenders”. The committee’s report revealed that convicted offenders requested to be castrated as they feared being thrown into prison for the rest of their lives, under the law. The Council of Europe has called the practice “degrading”.
While castration is legal in the Czech Republic, some have suggested that it violates human rights. On the other hand, chemical castration, a form of medication administered to compulsive sexual offenders in efforts to reduce their sex drive as against real castration, where a man’s testes are removed, has been used in many countries, including the U.S. and parts of Europe. It’s use has been criticised as some offenders tend return to their habits as soon as the medication is discontinued. Only last month, Poland passed a law making chemical castration mandatory for convicted paedophiles.
Although a similar bill in Kenya was hoped to act as a deterrent to the rising number of rapes and other sex crimes, it was was dropped, due to the fact that the context in which castration was to be conducted questioned the judicial system’s ability to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of accused persons. Meanwhile, the Council of Europe has questioned the Czech republic over whether the option of consent to surgical castration will always be truly free and informed.