rape

Judge sets new Malawi benchmark in child rape case

Against the background of a sharp and disturbing rise in the rape of children in Malawi (a problem in a number of other jurisdictions as well), a prominent high court judge has delivered a decision setting a new benchmark for sentence and judicial comment in response to such crimes. His important new judgment comes as police in Malawi have released new rape statistics showing that the number of young girls raped (or ‘defiled’ in terms of Malawi’s law) is far higher than the number of adult women raped.

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Malawi’s Judge Redson Kapindu is used to expressing controversial views on the law. As a law lecturer in South Africa, he had no hesitation in drafting insightful critiques of SA’s apex constitutional court. This was in his then capacity as law teacher at the University of Johannesburg, and as deputy director of the South African Institute for advanced constitutional, public, human right and international law.

Some justice at last for girls, women, raped by police in Malawi

It was a major scandal at the time, but nothing had been done about it until now. Last October, a number of police raped and sexually abused at least 18 girls and women outside Lilongwe, Malawi. The attacks by police were in apparent retaliation for a political protest that had led to one police officer being killed. Since then there was complete inaction by the police, with neither investigation nor arrest.

'Satan did it', claims rape accused

Mothers have been warned by a senior judge from Sierra Leone to be ‘doubly careful’ about the safety of their daughters. They should be ‘less trusting’ of others and should ‘prod on with love’ if they notice any change in their children, to find out the reason for the altered behaviour. This might help avert would-be rapists. Judge Reginald Fynn made these comments after finding a man guilty of raping a six-year-old who had been left in his care by the girl’s mother.

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This is the first time I have read judgment in a rape trial heard by the High Court of Sierra Leone. There are several ways in which it is different from cases in other jurisdictions involving child rape or ‘defilement’ as it is sometimes called, and some of these differences are worth pointing out.

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