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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 15:06 GMT
'Castrate Zambia's child rapists'
Zambian children
Child rape has helped spread Aids
Zambian members of parliament have called for child rapists to be castrated to curb a growing problem.

Police say that 400 cases of child rape were reported in the first half of 2003 - a 68% increase on the previous year.

Some men say they rape children in the belief that having sex with a virgin can cure Aids. Some 20% of Zambians are HIV positive.

The call was made in a report by the parliamentary legal committee, whose recommendations often become law.

'Barbaric'

"The recommendation is the result of the numerous cases of child defilement in the country," said Amos Nakalonga, Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Good Governance and Human Rights.

Even three-month-old babies have been raped.

If a man cannot handle the responsibility of his sexuality then he does not deserve to have it.
Barbra Mack, USA

"It's too barbaric to be allowed to happen," Mr Nakalonga told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"People have observed that existing laws are weak [and] not deterring people," he said.

However, he did not say how the castration should be carried out, saying this question should be answered when the bill is drafted.

He said it was "likely" that the recommendation would become law.

The incidence of child rape is one factor behind the high number of young girls who are HIV positive.

Some Zambian women's rights activists also back the MPs' position.

Grace Kanyanga, who heads an umbrella grouping of women's rights campaigners, says that cattle-rustlers can be sentenced to 25 years in prison, while child rapists get just one or two years.

"Do we value our animals more than our children?" she asked.

"I think castration is nothing compared to raping a nine-month girl," she told BBC News Online.




WATCH AND LISTEN
MP Amos Nakalongaon BBC Network Africa
"It's too barbaric to be allowed to happen"



SEE ALSO:
Growing up fast in Zambia
17 Jul 01  |  Africa
Country profile: Zambia
13 Aug 03  |  Country profiles


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