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Rape laws need to redefine rape

Millions of women around the world have been victims of rape
Millions of women around the world have been victims of rape

I was recently sharing a story with a female friend about crimes in our country. After talking about a number of crimes she finally mentioned rape. It was not by accident that rape came last; it was by design. The more rape becomes a household act the more we take it less seriously.

Millions of women around the world have been victims of rape and a gigantic percentage of them have chosen to go silent because they are aware that shouting about it only attract sympathy but not justice.

Secondly society sometimes does not allow the door to swing to both sides; women have instead been blamed for their rape encounters.  That’s why 54% of the rape cases are not reported.

The world’s super power, United States, again holds the world’s number one position when it comes to the race of rape.   According to the National Violence against Women Survey, 1 in 6 American women and 1 in 33 American men has experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

Males are majorly the rapist holding a proportion of 99%. Out of all the victims, 91% are females while 9% are males. More than a quarter of college-age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14. It is also important to note that outdoor rape is not common in USA rather most of the rape cases takes place inside homes.

America is not alone. South Africa and Sweden follow in the lead. South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, with some 65,000 rapes and other sexual assaults reported for the year 2012. The incidence of rape led to the country being referred to as the “rape capital of the world”. India is also well positioned; actually the latest estimates suggest that a new case of rape is reported every 22 minutes in India and most of the rapists are parents and family members of the victims. United Kingdom and Germany are also competing favorably in the race.  They are followed by France, Canada, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is estimated to have one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. A report by the UN found that nearly 60% of Ethiopian women are subjected to sexual violence. Rape is a very serious problem in Ethiopia.

The country is infamous for the practice of marriage by abduction, with the prevalence of this practice in Ethiopia being one of the highest in the world. The abductor will hide his intended bride and rape her until she becomes pregnant. Girls as young as eleven years old are reported to have been kidnapped for the purpose of marriage. Also the Ethiopian military has been accused of committing systematic rapes against civilians.

Rape treats women as vessels, disregarding their autonomy and their right to control what happens to them physically and sexually. A number of countries and their governments are likely to hold a position that women are not entitled to make fundamental decisions about their own bodies and their own sexual and reproductive health.

But even when authorities are committed to bringing justice they are usually challenged by the need to define rape. We have to switch from a “no means no” approach to a “yes means yes” standard, requiring partners to make an “affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” before having sex, and making clear that silence or a lack of resistance cannot be interpreted as consent.

We have got to know that clarifying consent is a common stumbling block. The fact that the victim murmured, whispered, cried or moaned is not sufficient to establish no consent and even a reasonable sexual partner is not under obligation to understand that as no consent.  We only base on natural judgment, something that’s risky.

In Uganda rape is a capital offence that may be punishable by death. Also detention with sexual intent, where a person, such as a police officer or prison official, with legal custody of a detainee participates in or facilitates unlawful sexual intercourse with the detainee, is punishable by death.

A 2007 amendment to the Penal Code also created a death-eligible offense for unlawful sexual intercourse with minors.

Defilement, or “unlawfully having sexual intercourse with another person under the age of 14 years,” is punishable by the death penalty. Given the wording of the provision, it is possible that this is a statutory rape provision.

The amendment also provides that sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 years of old is punishable by death under the following circumstances: if the offender is infected with HIV, if the offender is a parent or guardian of the victim, if the victim has a disability, or if the offender is a serial offender.  Much as this is in place enforcement is still lacking.

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