Let’s focus on applying laws to punish defilers 

Sunday September 13 2020
By Monitor Editor

The violence that has characterised the NRM primaries is regrettable, but although we do not condone such behaviour, it is a relief that such scenes are only but seasonal. Sadly, the same cannot be said for defilement. Daily Monitor of September 9 in a story titled, ‘7,000 girls defiled between January and June - police report’, reveals that 620 children below the age of eight years were defiled between January and June. 
According to statistics from the Criminal Investigations Directorate, there were 1,446 victims between nine and 14 years, and 4,822 victims between 14 and 17 years. In 2019, police registered at least 13,613 defilement cases and 15,366 in 2018.
This year, most cases have been attributed to the closure of schools and consequent sending of children back home to prevent the spread of coronavirus. There is definitely truth to this as children who were once protected by staying in school are now home redundant, roaming around villages and being exposed to predators.
However, it would be foolhardy to blame the surge in defilement cases entirely on the lockdown as even before coronavirus these cases still existed.
According to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Sabiiti Muzeyi, the high cases of such abuse are due to, among other factors, cultural aspects that impede investigations. 
He also mentions the lack of a law on witness protection that hinders people from reporting cases for fear of exposure and stigmatisation.
Section 129 of the Penal Code Act states that any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of 18 years, commits a felony known as defilement and is on conviction liable to life imprisonment. 
The law also provides for aggravated defilement, which makes one on conviction by the High Court liable to suffer death. Some of the circumstances for aggravated defilement include defilement of a child below the age of 14 years, where the offender is infected with HIV, offender is a parent or guardian or a person in authority over the victim, where the victim is a person with disability, among others.
This is a seemingly good and fair law which, if effected without fear or favour, should deter reoccurrence or even thinking about committing such a crime. However, dealing with this problem demands a multi-pronged approach. 
Therefore, let us turn our focus to the factors that hinder the law from being effected, but also look at the prevention aspect by protecting children from situations that render them vulnerable to abuse.