This was one of the placards during this year’s International Women’s Day. When I saw this picture on the Lusaka Times, I burst out in laughter. It was probably the funniest thing I had read the whole day. I only had to think back at that line and I found myself once again LMAO. Then I read between the lines and realised the gravity of the problem that Zambia has. These are the suggestions we have been reduced to in an attempt to stop defilement in this country.
For people who are unfamiliar with the statement, let me give you a brief. A couple of weeks ago a 22 year-old man in Mbala was found having sex with a goat. He was later apprehended by the police because bestiality is a criminal offense in Zambia. As disgusting or absurd as this may sound maybe we should be thankful that at least a child somewhere was spared from being defiled. It is so disheartening and makes for sad reading. Whenever, I open the newspapers I read stories of how a 3 year-old girl child has been defiled by a 55 year-old man. What is even more horrific is that the people who are committing these heinous crimes are the ones who are supposed to protect these girls- fathers, uncles, cousins, or neighbours. It is not like these people are strangers but these are people the girls know and trust. These defilers are giving men a bad name and there is an increasing amount of mistrust in families and the society at large. I cannot dare give my neighbour’s daughter a sweet today for fear that it may be misconstrued for a devious motive behind it. Mothers have to think twice before they leave their daughters at home with a male relative. This is because a few men cannot control their raging hormones. Ala.
It is behind this backdrop that you can get to at least gain some understanding of the placard. To me it illustrated that we are out of solutions and we do not know what to do to stop this. Therefore, the man having sex with a goat was a welcome suggestion. Because let us face it, increasing the jail sentences does not seem to be working much. Despite the reports of the number of years that men who are apprehended go to prison for anything between 15- 20 years, it still seems not to be a deterrent. In fact, the defilement cases have even become more gruesome, with some leading to the murder of the victims. It is so easy to brush aside the gravity of defilement especially if it does not hit close to home. There is also a risk of readers fatigue as there are defilement related articles almost every single day. Perhaps we need to come up with more creative punishments or preventative measures to arrest this situation. Below are some of the suggestions I have come across:
· Women Mob Justice- Now this suggestion was given by female friends who feel that the law is not doing enough. They think that the defilers get off easily. Therefore, they want to be allowed to carry out mob justice on the defiler. Their suggestion is that whenever, such a culprit is caught all the women in the neighbourhood should pounce on him and hold him down. Then a string should be tied to his private parts and pulled until it drops off. They believe that will send a message loud and clear.
· Tattoo the Forehead- Men who have been found guilty of defilement should have permanent tattoos on their foreheads. This would then act as a warning wherever they go that care must be taken because a defiler is in the house.
· Castrate the Burgers- This is a solution that has been debated around the world. However, this debate has not yet taken fold in Zambia. Maybe it is high time that we begin to consider it. The dilemma with castration it has to be proved without reasonable doubt that the defiler actually did commit the crime.
· Life Sentence- A Kenyan doctor informed that me that defilement is low in Kenya because once the perpetrator is caught, he receives life no questions asked. There is no such thing as I am a first time offender or I have a family to look after. It is a straight life sentence. This has happened to make would be offenders think twice and it seems to be working.
· Death Penalty- Many will argue that the death penalty is the least that these defilers deserve. This is because the result of their actions on the victim is far much worse than death. When someone dies it is over. The victim on the other hand will be scarred for life, their innocence is stolen, and they may have contracted an STI or even become pregnant.
Exorcism- Some of the defenses that defilers claim is that they did not want to commit the crimes but some powerful force made them. They blame it on the devil or demons that somehow got over their bodies and minds forcing them to pounce on the girls. Hence the solution to rid them of this ugly force is to line them up and exorcise them one by one.
Whether the punishment suggestions would help prevent defilement is questionable. History has already shown that increasing the jail sentence has not helped and in countries where the death penalty is exercised murders have not stopped. It could be that maybe a new approach needs to be taken besides encouraging the use of a goat. At the moment we are reacting to the situation. Maybe as much attention as is given to the girl child should be given to the boy child too. Let us not forget that boys grow up into men. Boys should be taught to honour and respect girls and women. They are not to be treated as objects of our desire. Maybe it is time that more men become bold enough to speak out on matters of defilement rather than leaving it to the female folk to discuss. Alternatively, we need to get to the root cause of the problem. We have so many defilers locked up that it should be time a research is undertake to try and get an understanding. Psychologists and Sociologists should probably be in the forefront to somehow get the answers we are looking for in order to prevent the situation from getting any worser.
The bottom line is we must save the girl child and do whatever it takes to protect them. Just because it is not your daughter, sister or niece who is defiled it doesn't mean we should be less concerned. It is our responsibility to care for these children whether they are in our homes or 500 kilometres away. Unless that is done maybe suggesting the use of a goat instead of the girl child is our only option.
Do you agree with the punishments proposed or what are your suggestions?