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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
against domestic violence as traditional Chiefs trained
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
August 21, 2007
the special index page on the Domestic Violence Act
historical enactment of Zimbabwe's Domestic Violence Act,
UNICEF in collaboration with Government and the Zimbabwe
Women Lawyers Association (ZWALA) is training hundreds of traditional
leaders across the country.
ensures more than 300 Chiefs are reached with information on how
they can apply and interpret the Act, stop abuse, and offer support
to victims in their communities.
play a pivotal role in settling domestic disputes across rural Zimbabwe,"
said UNICEF Representative, Dr Festo Kavishe. "They are often
the custodians of traditional law and receive the bulk of cases
dealing with domestic violence. Yet too often in the past they have
lacked the power and knowledge to prevent and adequately respond
to domestic violence."
economic hardships, unemployment at 70%, and a growing HIV/AIDS
crisis, anecdotal evidence has shown not only an increase but severity
in domestic violence. In Zimbabwe 95% of the victims of domestic
violence are women.
for a Domestic Violence law was a triumph, a great first stride,"
said UNICEF's gender focal person, Jelda Nhiziyo. "But
this is the beginning. The greatest challenges lie ahead. We must
fight to change mindsets, entrenched values and habits, and in this
struggle traditional leaders are the key."
has enabled 300 chiefs to create community-level systems to support
survivors of violence. It has also provided a forum for ongoing
dialogue on the growing problem of violence in the family setting
and how to curb it. In addition to chiefs, the UNICEF training brought
together councilors, members of parliament, government and civil
society to exchange ideas.
Violence Act provides Zimbabwe with clear laws against violence
in the home. The Act protects victims of domestic violence and provides
long term measures through:
- stiffer sentences
in criminal matters
special duties on police to assist victims and providing for special
domestic violence sections at police stations
police are specially trained on the Bill and that they should
advise the victim of his or her rights under the Bill.
providing victims with a court issued protection order, that directs
the perpetrator to stop committing violence and is issued with
a warrant of arrest
there remains a widespread lack of knowledge about the Act (which
became law in 2006), and its provisions. In particular, many are
unaware that physical, psychological and emotional abuse are grounds
for protection and that a protection order can remain in force when
a protected person is living with the perpetrator. The engagement
of traditional leadership aims to address these knowledge gaps.
Beyond the training,
UNICEF is actively engaged in working to reduce domestic violence
in Zimbabwe. UNICEF also trains pastors, police and communities
on handling domestic violence, together with teachers on how they
can provide life skills to victims of violence. It works with community
based counselors to identify and counsel survivors of domestic violence.
A global study
published last year by UNICEF and The Body Shop International reveals
the devastating and lasting impact on children of living with domestic
In the vast
majority of cases, domestic violence is perpetrated against women.
At least one in three women globally has been beaten, coerced into
sex, or abused in some other way-most often by someone she knows,
including by her husband or another male family member. The report
turns attention to the lesser-known facts: the impact on children
who are exposed to this violence.
of the biggest victims of domestic violence are the smallest,"
said Kavishe. "Protecting children should be the absolute
concern of everybody who is working to see an end to domestic violence."
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