A critical investigation into how the corroborative evidence ‘rule’ in rape and defilement cases traumatises and violates the rights of women and girls who are victims of rape and defilement in Zambia: A study carried out in Lusaka city of Zambia
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This study investigates how the corroborative evidence or cautionary ‘rule’ (in reality, a practice that has hardened into a ‘rule’ as a result of judicial interpretation) in sexual offences, such as rape and defilement, traumatises and violates the human rights of women and girl victims in Zambia. The study sets out to discover whether the Zambian criminal justice system adequately protects women and girl victims of rape and defilement during the process of obtaining corroboration evidence. Even though the corroboration evidence rule seems to be important to prove sexual offences beyond a reasonable doubt, it traumatises and violates the rights of women and girls, such as their rights to privacy, to be protected from inhuman and degrading treatment and to equality before the law, to access to justice and not to be discriminated against on the grounds of sex. This problematic rule is essentially founded on the empirically unfounded, gender-biased belief that women and girls are more likely to lay false charges in crimes of rape or defilement than any other crime. As a result of their entrenched prejudicial opinion of women, the courts rigorously apply the corroboration evidence rule in all sexual offences, while completely ignoring how the rule traumatises women and girl victims and violates their human rights. These negative effects of the rule are exposed by this research which focuses on the lived realities of the victims of sexual offences who, in their quest for justice, journey through a criminal justice system which forces them to interact with police officers, doctors, prosecutors, magistrates and judges whose conduct, as state service providers, fall far short of the duties placed on them by local, regional and international instruments ratified by the Zambian government. As a result, the findings of the study demand us to re-visit and determine whether the rule should be abolished completely or relaxed as some countries in the Southern African region have done. The study reveals that women and girl victims of rape and defilement suffer from severe forms of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual trauma. Trials are especially traumatising and many victims report that the day they testified in court was the worst day of their lives. The victims are not only traumatised by the actual crime, but also by the negative attitude of their communities towards them. Finally, the study contains the conclusions and recommendations on the rule of corroboration evidence in Zambia.
Additional Citation InformationPhiri, B. (2014). A critical investigation into how the corroborative evidence ‘rule’ in rape and defilement cases traumatises and violates the rights of women and girls who are victims of rape and defilement in Zambia: A study carried out in Lusaka city of Zambia (Unpublished master's thesis). Women’s Law, Southern and Eastern African Regional Centre for Women’s Law, University of Zimbabwe
University of Zimbabwe