KAMPALA (AFP) – A Ugandan court has given a symbolic six-hour jail term to a teenage girl who killed her rapist father in a case that has drawn a wave of public sympathy.
The 18-year-old girl, who is now pregnant after repeated attacks, had confessed to killing her father with a knife and machete, Peter Mugisha, a prosecutor in the case, told AFP Friday.
"Because she pleaded guilty and said she acted in self-defence, the judge sentenced her to six hours in jail and by close of the business day she was out of jail," he said.
According to the state-owned New Vision newspaper, the girl had "lost count" of the number of times her 58-year-old father had attacked her since she turned 13. She also said that pleas for help to her mother and local police were ignored.
"To add insult to an injury, she said the deceased had vowed to father more children with her as he had done with her two elder sisters," the paper said. "In total the deceased fathered five children with his daughters."
The case, which was heard earlier this week in a court in Masaka, central Uganda, has captured national attention and prompted a wave of expressions of support for the girl.
Ugandan MP and prominent lawyer Crispus Ayena Odongo said the case was an important landmark in efforts to protect women from sexual violence.
"The court did a good thing. This is the first of its kind and the case is going to make a precedent," he said, adding that he believed the state would not appeal the court's decision because of the public sentiment supporting the girl.
Renowned Ugandan women's rights activist and former minister in charge of ethics, Miria Matembe, nevertheless asserted that the girl should not have been jailed at all.
"This case marks a dark moment in our history," she said, calling for rapists to be castrated.
"Had we started castrating them then such cases would have stopped by now. There is need for experts to help this girl and her siblings come out of this trauma, otherwise they will remain traumatised for the rest of their lives."
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a conservative Christian, has previously spoken out in favour of imposing the death penalty for rape and incest.
"I don't support the idea of mutilation for men who commit incest or defilement. I think hanging them is much better," he was quoted as saying in a speech marking International Women's Day last year.