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Amend the Termination of Pregnancy Act: ZHRC

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has urged legislators to review the Termination of Pregnancy Act in a bid to broaden the definition of “unlawful intercourse” to include rape within a marriage.

In a statement, the ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi said amending the law would safeguard women and girls regardless of age.

“The lawmakers should revisit the Termination of Pregnancy Act to broaden the definition of ‘unlawful intercourse’ in Section 2(1) to include rape within a marriage (marital rape), which currently is explicitly excluded from the definition and to include sexual intercourse with children under the age of 18 years,” Mugwadi said.

“What is clear from the provisions of the Criminal Code is that marital rape is criminalised. Therefore, the Termination of Pregnancy Act should be amended to align with the recent developments in criminal laws. The statutory provisions highlighted above dismiss the myth that has been widely held over the years that a husband cannot rape his wife by taking a progressive position which aligns with international standards and recommendations that seek to protect the rights of women,” Mugwadi said.

He said the circumstances forcing women, who are usually adolescents or younger women to abort, would usually be so compelling such that they would seek other recourses through illegal routes, hence ending up inunsafe abortions detrimental to their health as well as lives of the unborn children.

However, illegal abortion carry a penalty of up to five years in jail and/or a fine.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the legal age of sexual consent be increased to 18 from 16.

In Zimbabwe, sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls are recognised under Section 52 of the Constitution which provides that everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity which includes the right to make decisions concerning reproduction.



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