By Mercy Makuwatsine and Faithful Mazodza
TheÂ timeÂ fromÂ conceptionÂ through theÂ nine months of pregnancy to deliveryÂ isÂ very special for many women. The nine months are full of expectation as a motherÂ waits toÂ hold her baby.
On the dayÂ she gives birth, although it will be a day full of pain,Â the joy of having a baby overcomes the labour pains. It will be a memorable day full of joy and happiness.
Giving birth to a baby as well as being a baby girl is one thing most women cherish. Looking at the sweet little innocent baby smiling makes the mother smile too.
Nowadays, many mothers look at their babies with fear and anxiety over what may befall their lovely daughters as they grow up.
The world has become a haven of beasts waiting to pounce on innocent little souls. A land where ruthless and cunning men are waiting toÂ grab the young babies and rape them.
Is this humane, forÂ an adultÂ man to go hunting for sweet little babies in order to rape them? Are these men notÂ fathers, brothers and uncles to these children?
Recently, a four-year old girl was kidnapped from her family home by unknown assailants who raped her in a nearby cabin in a horrific incident that left Avondale West residents shocked.
Last year, in August, a Glen View 2 Primary School teacher appeared before a Harare magistrate facing charges of raping a 14-year old girl. The teacher is alleged to have raped the minor before making threats to discourage her from reporting the matter.
HaveÂ our men become animals? If dogs can take care of their own, why canâ€™t human beings?
On Thursday the 19th of August 2010,Â the media reported that a nine-year old girlÂ was raped by 17 men. The alleged abuse came to light in January when the girl started staying with her father and stepmother in Harare.
One can only wonder, and this perhaps goes for all parents who have daughters, if at all the next-door neighbour is even to be trusted.
Perhaps this has everything to do with how the justice system of our country handles such cases.
Nothing is more painful than to see a man who has sexually violated a child and traumatised her for the rest of her life receive just a few years in prison.
Media reports also carried a story where a 35-year old supervisor at Hupenyu Hutsva Childrenâ€™s Home will spend 23 years in jail for raping and impregnating three orphaned girls at the institution. A Harare regional magistrate sentenced the culprit to 28 years before suspending five years on condition of good behaviour.
What good behaviour is there to expect from such a devilish rapist?
Think about it: what does 23 years mean to a person who has permanently inflicted pain – physical, emotional, psychological – toÂ three innocent girls at once?
Some rapists have even gone to the extend of infecting their victims with the deadly HIV. Is that not in itself a death sentence? What is 23 years compared to a life sentence of undeserved suffering and trauma?
Calls have been made from various quarters, particularly those who fight for the rights of women and the girl child, for rapists – be they male or female, to be given life imprisonment, for whatever rape case.
Even colleagues agree: â€œThey should be given life imprisonment because if they are allowed to come out of the jail, they will come out and have a new life whilst the minors will never have a new life,â€ one said.
Another asked: “What is the purpose of giving a rapist 20 years or less, when the victim has been sentenced to life in suffering?
And what is this arrangement that a rapist can go to jail and further his education from there? For what? Does that make sense at all? What happens to the life of the 3-year old girl who gets raped and is infected with HIV and has only 20 more years to live, if at all she makes it, whereas her attacker is sent to prison to ‘enjoy’ education and vocational training and possibly lives longer than his victim? Is that justice?
The Herald ofÂ February 2 2012 carried a story of a 26-year-old Beatrice man who used to intercept a 12-year-old girl on her way to and from school and raped her on several occasionsÂ and wasÂ jailed an effective 11 years.
Surely, after raping for so many timesÂ a serialÂ rapists gets only 11 years? How ridiculous!
What happens to the girl when she grows old? HowÂ will men take her and her story? Will they be willing to take her as a wife? No matter how much she tries to forget about her past, the scars willÂ remain. Her memories of the gruesome act can never be erased.
After so many questions,Â legislators should do something and bring culprits to book such that they will get to taste their own medicine. If they are really punished at least the mothers or parents of the minors will feel the law has been fair and society will once again be home sweet home.