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On appeal, Justice Andrew Mutema blasted the magistrate for being “too harsh”.The judge, citing earlier cases to buttress his point, added: “Her appearance is important because the moral blameworthiness of the man will be less if he wrongly believes, from her appearance, that she is older than she actually is.“Similarly, the girl’s character — whether she be virgin or promiscuous, a flirt or demure — must have a like bearing on whether the accused was knowingly preying on the innocent or merely risking lying with an underage but worldly-wise girl.”Magaisa says the attitude of some magistrates and judges like Justice Mutema is slowing down the campaign against child abuse.The country’s national estimate for HIV prevalence amongst adults in 2007 was 15.6% (range 14.9–16.3%).In part, the scale of the epidemic at country level reflects its widely disseminated nature.
Direct estimates of HIV incidence in male factory workers and women attending pre- and post-natal clinics, trends in HIV prevalence in 15–24-year-olds, and back-calculation estimates based on the vital registration data from Harare indicated that HIV incidence may have peaked in the early 1990s and fallen during the 1990s.The magistrate said while passing sentence: “Both of you exhibited immaturity and you were oblivious of the dangers of engaging in sexual intercourse.”Lawyer Alex Magaisa says while the age of consent under the constitution is 16, in practice it is in fact 12 – with the courts playing a major role in lowering the bar.Writing in The Chronicle today, he said: “While it’s often said the age of consent in Zimbabwe is 16 years, it is on analysis, effectively 12 years for girls.In 2013, when a magistrate sentenced a man who had sex with a 14-year-old girl to an effective 12 months in jail, a judge rebuked her on appeal, saying it was “an extremely harsh sentence that she imposed without any plausible justification as it would have the effect of further prejudicing the accused person.”Now campaigners want law reforms currently underway to align legislation with the new constitution to reaffirm 16 as the age of consent and give judges more powers to issue deterrent sentences.“It’s terrible,” MDC lawmaker Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga [Umzingwane] said yesterday as she surveyed the current sentencing guidelines on sexual offences against children.
She added: “Look at stocktheft, it has a mandatory sentence for each cow or beast stolen, but for a young girl or woman who has had her future violated through rape, there’s no such thing. It simply shows that cattle are more valorised than our children.Methods Comprehensive review and secondary analysis of national and local sources on trends in HIV prevalence, HIV incidence, mortality and sexual behaviour covering the period 1985–2007.