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40 years for rape

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MBABANE – Rapists in the country face jail terms of up to 40 years if convicted of the crime of rape. This includes women who shall now also be charged for rape.

The least maximum sentence is 18 years behind bars while the highest is 40 years as a guest of the state in any of the correctional services facilities in the kingdom. The gravity of the sentences depends on the age of the victim and whether the offender is committing the crime for the first or second time. The sentence is a few years lighter if the criminal is a first offender and heavier if the crime is committed by a repeat offender.

Double offenders will be known through a National Register for Sex Offenders, a document that will be established to record names of all people convicted of sexual offences in the kingdom. The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill of 2009 defines rape as an unlawful sexual act committed under any coercive circumstances, false pretences or fraudulent means or with somebody who is incapable, in terms of the law, to know the nature of sexual actions. It also includes having sex with somebody under duress, psychological oppression and fear of violence.

Force The Bill defines coercive circumstances as using force against the person or property belonging to the person, threatening to harm the person or her property and abusing power or authority to the extent that the victim is afraid of resisting. False pretences or fraudulent means, according to the proposed law, means leading the victim to believe that she or he is having sex with a particular person when, in fact, it is with a different person altogether.

In terms of the Bill, someone who is incapable of appreciating that the act is sexual in nature is somebody who is asleep or unconscious when the act occurs. It also means instances where the person is under the influence of drugs, medication or alcohol as well as when the victim is mentally disabled or below the age of 16 years.

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