A Dowa Magistrate court recently acquitted Seleman Jonathan, a 50 year old Rwandan asylum seeker at Dzaleka refugee camp, after he defiled a 10 year old girl (name withheld) on grounds that the girl didn’t feel pain, and that she didn’t complain.

The development caused a lot of criticism from many women’s rights campaigners, and other human rights activists on the way the justice system has been delivered in the country. It is reported that the girl’s mother sent the young girl to recharge her cell phone at Seleman’s shop, and it was at this point when the accused took advantage of opportunity and enticed the girl to sleep with him. Apparently, first grade Magistrate Titus Banda ruled that since the girl never complained there was no case, hence acquitted Jonathan.

Meanwhile Acting Registrar of the High Court, Michael Mtambo has ordered a review of all judgment files of this case. “After the review, the court will decide whether to overwrite the first ruling, or not based on the findings of the High Court”, said Mtambo.

John Gift Mwakhwa, president of Malawi Law Society, told a national newspaper, “It’s not a question of pain when tackling issues of sex with minors. This faulted the criteria the magistrate used to set free the accused.”

Under the penal code of Malawi, any sexual assault to a person below 15 years is punishable to maximum prison sentence of 14 years IHL, whether it was forced or consented.

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