Rights Bodies Seek Defilement Law Interpretation
Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) want court to interpret defilement law to see if it does not violate children rights.
The two bodies say currently, section 138(1) of the Penal Code is overly broad and criminalizes both abusive acts against children as well as non-exploitive consensual sexual conduct between adolescents.
They are representing in court a 15 year old adolescent boy who is accused of having a consensual sexual relationship with a 15 year old girl.
Lawyer Chikondi Chijozi of SALC told Zodiak Online on Wednesday that on Tuesday, “the Child Justice Court sitting in Blantyre issued an order for a stay of criminal proceedings against an adolescent boy who was charged with the offence of defilement pending determination of the High Court on the constitutionality of the offence.
“The Chief Justice will now be requested to refer the matter to the High Court to consider whether the overly broad application of the offence of defilement violates the Applicant’s rights to dignity, privacy, equality before the law, and the right to health which includes sexual reproductive health rights.”
The bodies say they are concerned by the number of children who have been sentenced to lengthy periods of imprisonment for consensual sexual acts and the use of criminal law to address matters of this nature.