A magistrate in Malawi has produced a decision on a statutory rape case that, in part, reads like a racy novel. The magistrate was presiding in the trial of an 18-year-old, charged with ‘defilement’ – the Malawian version of rape when the complainant is underage. At issue was the defence of the accused who said he genuinely thought the girl involved was over 16 – and in dealing with that question, the magistrate rather sensationalised the sexual history of the girl concerned.
This has to be one of the most bizarre judicial decisions I have ever read. The senior Blantyre magistrate who wrote it, Elijah Blackboard Dazilikwize Pachalo Daniels, seems to have believed that if perhaps he wrote his decision in a salacious style, it would add weight to his criticism of Malawi’s youth in general, and in particular of the young woman involved in the matter before him.