Traditional leaders under fire for lenient fines on rape

HUMAN rights activist Rosa Namises has slammed traditional authorities for their leniency in dealing with rape cases.

This comes after eight traditional authorities revised their penalty structure for various offences, including a significant increase in fines for rape and murder.

In the past, a rapist was fined N$3 000 or two heads of cattle.

The new fines, which took effect on 1 March 2023, see rape offenders facing a fine of N$7 500 or three heads of cattle.

This represents a substantial increase from the previous penalty.

The revised penalties are effective in the traditional authorities of the Uukwaluudhi, Uukolonkadhi, Ongandjera, Ombalantu, Ombadja, Uukwambi, Oukwanyama and Ondonga.

Namises asks why traditional courts hold so much power when it comes to punishing rapists, particularly with sanctions as light as N$25 000 fines.

She criticises the practice of offering cattle as compensation for rape, saying the trauma inflicted on survivors lasts a lifetime.

Namises calls for a tougher stance, urging traditional courts to work alongside the official justice system.

She advocates for harsher punishment alongside traditional education for offenders.

“The traditional authority should say such men, while in prison, should be taught what the traditional beliefs are,” Namises says.

“The men need to understand what it means to protect a child. They need to understand that their wives or girlfriends should not be beaten,” she says.

Namises says there is a need for traditional authorities to uphold true traditional values, promoting respect for women and children within communities.

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