SOMETHING has seriously gone wrong in our country. The number of rape and defilement cases being reported in our media every day is alarming and an indication of something being seriously wrong in our country. Sex was not meant to be used this way. It was not meant for rape, defilement or even incest. The enjoyment of the right to family comes with a duty to respect the sanctity of sex.

Perverted attitude to sex leads to a lot of inhumanity and injustice. It's grieving to see that so many people in our country are disregarding not only the laws of nature, the laws of the country and the biblical precepts, but also their own culture.

They are tearing sexuality out of the context of responsibility, care and compassion. What was meant to be an expression of personal love is increasingly becoming something impersonal, even inhuman. What was meant to foster life-long fidelity has become a means for momentary intoxication and excitement.

What was meant to instil tenderness and gentleness and bring comfort and joy has been turned into a brutalising and dehumanising experience of violence and pain for victims of rape, defilement and incest. Some of this is a product of greed and vanity, of people wanting to be rich, famous or strong and important. Superstition is being pushed to ridiculous levels.

There are people who think raping, defiling someone or engaging in incest can bring them all these things - money, good business, social and political power and so on and so forth. There are some who even think it is a cure for some sexually transmitted diseases they may be suffering from.

The list of this stupidity goes on and on. But it shouldn't be forgotten that promoting the welfare of our girls and of our women includes protection of the girls and women from sexual harassment. There is need to halt the spread of these criminal practices.

Our judicial process doesn't seem to be succeeding in stopping or reducing the prevalence of these sexual crimes. But one would ask: which crimes has our judicial process really succeeded in stopping or reducing by its own efforts alone? It would seem there is none.

Even murder and aggravated robbery don't seem to have reduced as a result of people being arrested by our police and sent to jail by our courts. There is so much talk about harshly punishing the perpetrators of rape and defilement. People are calling for stiffer penalties such as castration, life imprisonment or even the death sentence.

Will these work? Will these succeed in stopping or reducing the cases of rape and defilement? We doubt it. Experience has shown that crimes of this nature have to be fought from their roots all the way up to their effects. There are reasons for the increase in these crimes. Some of them, it would seem, have psychological, social and cultural roots.

Today, there is so much nonsense about Satanism this and Satanism that - whatever that means. People seem to believe in so many things that affect their social outlook and push them into certain undesirable behaviour. We need to lift this nation to a higher plateau of compassion and love for each other. We have mystified so many things.

And we need to demystify a lot of things for some of our people to function as normal human beings. A neighbour's bar is selling more beer.

Instead of trying to understand why this bar is popular with customers, we mystify everything and start to believe that it's because the owner has sex with such and such a relation - a daughter, a niece; has defiled this or that young girl.

People seem to be believing these things and they join such practices in the hope that they can succeed in what they are doing. There are people who sincerely believe that HIV and AIDS can be cured by defiling a child, an imbecile and they go ahead and do it.

These primitive ideas dominate and they are gaining root in our country. They are also being fuelled by certain religious and cultural outlooks. Of course, there are other social and psychological factors that lead certain elements to commit crimes of this nature.

All these things need to be addressed if we are to make progress in halting the increase in rape, defilement and incest cases. Focusing on punishing the offenders in the harshest of ways is not the solution. Vengeance cannot be a solution to such a serious problem.

Moreover, who are you meting revenge on? The monster that has raped or defiled a woman, a girl? Does that monster care? Do other monsters care? Will they be deterred by this to carry on with their own acts? Even public executions of criminals have failed to deter crime.

There is too much emotion around this issue. Yes, it is an issue that evokes emotions but a lasting solution to this problem will not come out of emotions but out of a sober reflection. We will not succeed in our fight against these monsters if all is anchored on revenge.

If we want to mobilise the nation against rape, defilement and incest, we can't do it with feelings of revenge. Let's also not forget that in sexual offences it is very easy to implicate innocent people who one has a bone to chew with. And this happens so often all over the world.

Therefore, a lot of care needs to be taken when dealing with matters of this nature because we may find that we have castrated an innocent person without there being a possibility of restoring things back to him. Let's look at this problem in its entirety, paying increasing attention to its causes without in any way ceasing to be compassionate to the victims.

And if not handled carefully, cases of rape, defilement and incest can bring veritable chaos in the nation, can bring so many divisions among families, clans and communities. We say this because the one being accused of defilement also has a family to which he belongs. If his matter is not handled carefully, there can be a spiral of acts of revenge; families, clans and communities can be turned against each other.

Let's punish criminals behind rape and defilement without causing much confusion in their communities. And moreover, the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm in dealing with any crime, including rape and defilement.

Clearly, there is need for more work on this issue before we rush to emotional conclusions and solutions motivated by vengeance.