South African Speaker, Nontembeko proposes stronger legislation in Africa to combat rape

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Speaker of the KwaZulu Natal legislature in South Africa, Boyce Nontembeko has advised African Parliamentarians to legislate strong laws that would enable successful prosecution of rape cases in the court of law, with the view to bringing suspects to book.

There are reports that current legislation in most African countries is defective, especially as regards the full prosecution of rape offenders or establishing a case of rape against a suspect.

Rape became another global pandemic in 2020, with women, young girls and mostly children worst hit, following the COVID-19, lockdown.

Nontembeko, while addressing Journalists in Abuja, on Friday, said the scourge of rape and other gender-based violence would be tamed, only with strong legislations, like the Hate Crimes Bill of the South African Parliament.

The Woman Parliamentarian, who delivered a paper titled ‘The Challenge of Implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) During the Pandemic’, at the ongoing 51st Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Africa region, lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic had a serious effect on the implementation of SDGs.

“We must unite and enact laws that will work for our people, especially, on the issue of gender. Rape is amongst those effects of the COVID-19 that might be implicit because it affects gender. When I spoke about Gender-Based Violence, we are also including rape.

“That is why in South Africa, we have put forth the Hate Crimes Bill. Although the Bill does not only speak about rape, it also speaks about the murder of people, because of correctional rape or because of their own sexuality, so I think that countries in the Commonwealth need to put stronger or more effort into understanding that, for as long as we leave the issues that relate to violence that is sexually motivated, there is no real hope for the development of Africa.

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“The harmony of Africa and the peace in Africa will not be achieved by silencing guns only, for as long as women and children are subjugated by their stronger allies which are men, there will be no real peace.

“So speaking about rape, it must be a priority of Commonwealth to end Gender-Based Violence and rape, and we have to also, within our own criminal justice laws, be explicit in how we determine the sanctions and strong punishment for rape, including the domestic violence that is perpetrated against women and children in their own country and other members of the Commonwealth”, Nontembeko added.

She also harped on the mental health of Africans, adding that the drift of attention to COVID-19 had distracted everyone from mental health, reproductive health, malaria and other communicable diseases.

KwaZulu Natal, one of the nine provinces in the South African Parliament has the largest representatives as lawmakers from the country in the 2021 conference of CPA holding in Nigeria.

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