The Immorality of Convicting Iris Kaingu

Iris Kaingu enters Lusaka Central Prison pending sentence on Thursday, 25th.

By Theresa Lungu

Theresa Lungu

The picture of Iris Kaingu entering Lusaka Central Prison, her head bowed in shame, her young face marred with worry is a testimony of Zambia’s twisted and incompetent justice system. Thankfully her bright yellow blouse throws an aura of hope around her.  In a short space of time she has gone from a carefree college student to a convicted criminal.  Her crime? She and her boyfriend took videos of themselves having consensual sex in the privacy of their room.

Iris is 21 years old, technically an adult and yet still so young and impressionable.  I am sure many of us recall our college days, drinking, illicit sex and other unsavory activities that as terrible as they maybe, are the right of passage for young people.  At the same time it is not all college students who are mischievous, many are on the straight and narrow, basically just studying and missing all the fun! Ok, the point I am trying to make is youthful offenders such as Iris must be given a chance to redeem themselves and not be sent to prison. As a matter of fact  I wouldn’t call Iris’s deed a crime, I view it as an error in judgment. I am sure Iris rues setting up that video camera.  What good is Iris’s imprisonment going to do for her life?  She has already been slandered and paraded on television and in newspapers as the shame of the nation.  Her future is uncertain and potentially ruined because the justice system and public opinion has rendered her a criminal.

I keep imagining the Judge in the case sitting down and watching the video as evidence.   Did he honestly think two young people having sex was bad for the development and moral fabric of Zambia? Was he rewinding and pausing the video to capture all the details? How did he decide to convict Iris?  If we are going to convict people over sex then we may as well go full throttle and convict adulterers, dead beat dads and everyone else in between. Convicting people solely on moral behavior is a misjudgment.

If I had a chance to visit Iris in that filthy jail cell at Lusaka central prison, I would hold her hand and tell her to put her head back up. She is not a criminal, she is a young woman who fumbled on the path of life like all of us have done at one point or another. Her erring must not be the end of her life, this must be a new beginning for her. She has already shown maturity and resilience in facing her public conviction.  There is no sentence bigger than shame and rejection.  Sending Iris to prison will be sentencing her two times over.  Iris must be pardoned and returned to school.  I am positive that she will make a good citizen of herself but we must give her a chance first.

Some commendable citizens have taken matters into their own hands and started a Facebook page to pardon Iris.  Those on the ground in Zambia, especially women’s rights groups must also mount support for Iris at her sentencing on Thursday and make sure that young woman goes home to her family and carry on with her education.

Iris, hang on in there.  If any adult in that court room has never had sexual relations then let them throw the first stone.

About Theresa Lungu

Theresa Lungu is founder of Books for Zambia, Born and raised in Luanshya, Zambia, Theresa has seen and felt the acute need for enhanced early childhood education in Zambia. She started Books For Zambia in 2003 to save Luanshya Library from the verge of closure. A graduate of Boston College, she now lives in Massachusetts and works at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. Theresa is also the author of ‘Twilight In The Morning’ and is looking to publish her second novel, 'Torment of an Angel' in the near future.
Category : Columnists, Theresa Lungu.
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8 responses to “The Immorality of Convicting Iris Kaingu”

  1. Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.|

  2. You’ll find some intriguing points at some point in this post but I do not determine if they all center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I appear into it further. Excellent post , thanks and then we want far more! Added to FeedBurner also

  3. chatea says:

    Thanks for the post, was an intriguing read. Curious as to how you came about that solution…

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  5. jaid15 says:

    we r all sinners, lets stop judging our frnds. who haven’t had sex b4? and z nt planning to d so?. i agree wth theresa

  6. mulenga says:

    Please can you remove the google ad on the left of the screen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it streatches all the way to the bottom and wont allow me to read your full articles. i know you need to make money but move the damn thing its so annoying!

  7. I am pissed off says:

    @Untrue Zambian

    Reread what Theresa have written.You can not judge other people by calling them sinners.I believe if we where to watch your so called clean life on plasma during judgment day we will see for ourselves.No body is condoning what she did, what everyone is advocating is to not convict Iris over what anybody if I may put It like Theressa has wrote impressionable young adult is capable of doing.Your seemingly moral children might be engaging themselves in stuff that you are not aware of.Of course it is important to always set boundaries but it is also important to leave room for mistakes.She is too young to be made a yard stick of morality in Zambia.What happened to Malala in Pakistan is bred through people who believe that anybody should live by their infallible laws.

  8. True Zambian says:

    Theresa are you saying you equally did this in your college days ? i am assure that is how you managed to pay your tuition …. If we continue to make saints out of sinners how will they repent and change for the better? You are a worse parent , i am certain you have no children if you do may be they are all illegitmet children

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