Zimbabwe raises the age of consent to 18; offenders face maximum 10 years imprisonment


HARARE – Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa has wielded his executive authority through the Presidential Powers Act to amend the criminal code, effectively raising the age of consent to 18. 

President Mnangagwa sets Zimbabwe age of consent to 18

This action comes in response to a legal loophole that had been inadvertently providing a safe haven for paedophiles since May 2023.

Under the new law, any individual found guilty of engaging in sexual activities with a minor could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

The loophole originated from a 2022 ruling by the Constitutional Court, which invalidated certain sections of the Criminal Law pertaining to sexual crimes. 

These sections had previously defined "young people" – for the purposes of sexual consent – as only individuals under the age of 16. 

The court had given the legislature a one-year window to draft a comprehensive law that would protect all children. However, the deadline was not met.

This oversight led to a sex offender being acquitted, triggering widespread public indignation and compelling the government to respond promptly.

The newly implemented measure is anticipated to act as a deterrent for sexual predators, thereby reinforcing the protection of children's rights.

You can download Statutory Instrument 2 of 2024 Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Criminal Laws (Protection of Children and Young Persons)) Regulations, 2024 via this link for more detail on the specific provisions

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