16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children

#16Days: What is the appropriate punishment for rapists?

In 1977 the American Supreme Court ruled against the death penalty for the crime of rape of an adult woman. The court held that "Life is over for the victim of the murderer; for the rape victim, life may not be nearly so happy as it was, but it is not over, and normally is not beyond repair".

In 2012 the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) named South Africa the “Rape Capital of the World”. Do you believe men who are convicted of the crime of rape should be sentenced to the death penalty? If so, do you believe it would reduce the number of rapes committed against women in South Africa? If not, what form of punishment would you like to happen?

On 27th February 2005 a 9-years-old American girl from Homosassa, Florida was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a man with prior convictions for sexual assaults. This widely publicized case resulted in several states enacting laws referred to as Jessica’s Law, which typically mandate life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, and lifetime electronic monitoring, for adults convicted of raping children under 12 years.

According to South African rape statistics, the greatest increase in sexual crimes is against infants and children under 7 years. Child rapes account for a shocking 45% of rapes reported to the police and it is estimated 50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18 years. What effect do you believe enacting laws like Jessica’s Law in America would have in South Africa? If a man is convicted of raping a child less than 12 years, what do you believe his sentence should be? What do you believe your responses say about you, particularly your values as an individual?

Professor Khalil Osiris is an internationally recognised expert on restorative justice practices and cognitive behavioural personal change. An author and educator from America, he spent 20 years of his life in prison. While there, Professor Osiris earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston University. He transformed his life and emerged from prison with a deep understanding of how to use personal crisis and challenges as opportunities for self-improvement.


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