Three women judges of Zambia’ Court of Appeal have dismissed a young man’s appeal against his sentence: 30 years’ imprisonment with hard labour for violently raping his 12-year-old cousin three times. He claimed he took the girl as part of a Tonga custom in terms of which, as the judges put it in their decision, ‘one can abduct a woman and have sexual intercourse with her and later formalise the marriage’. But the judges did not take the opportunity to criticise this custom. They simply rejected this justification of his actions because the trial record did not mention any agreement between the accused and the girl’s father for her to be abducted for the purposes of marriage. Why don’t judges speak out and condemn such barbarities as rape in the name of traditional marriage?