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of the draft Domestic Violence Bill
Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN)
May 06, 2004
Read the Prevention
of Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence
[Draft] Bill, 2003
ZWRCN organised its one hour GAD Talk on a "Critique of the draft
Domestic Violence Bill". This topic was prompted to feed into the
current consultative meetings being conducted by the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee for Youth Development, Gender and Employment
was keen to hear the views of the stakeholders for incorporation
into their Committee report to the House.
amendments by the stakeholders would subsequently be submitted to
the Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation
for inclusion into his schedule of amendments if he is agreeable
to them. Representatives from Civil Society and Parliament led the
Presenters for the day included Honourable Thokozile Khupe and Theresa
Mugadza, a lawyer. Honourable Khupe spoke on behalf of the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Gender, which is responsible for motivating
for and ensuring that the Bill goes through all the preparatory
stages as per law.
shared that the Domestic Violence Bill has been gazetted but not
yet tabled in Parliament. She highlighted that the Bill mainly covers
issues in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW).
heard that the Committee is in the process of gathering information
by inviting stake holder's input. The Committee is holding public
consultative hearings from 20 April to 13 May as follows:
- Mutare: Queens
Hall, 20 April at 2:30pm
Civic Centre,21 April at 09h00
Eveline High,22 April at 09h30
- Gweru: Theatre
Friday 23 April at 09h30
- Harare: Parliament
Building 13 May,10h00
will be as follows:
invites stakeholders to give their input
deliberates on stakeholder input
prepares the report and suggested amendments for presentation
in the house of parliament and also sharing with minister
- After consideration
of the amendments in parliament, if inputs are adopted they will
be incorporated into the final act
reports back to stakeholders.
highlighted that the reason why they were carrying out public hearings
was because in the past, there was inadequate consultation. The
aim therefore was to encompass as much as possible the views in
of the Domestic Violence Bill
Theresa Mugadza, a Lawyer and Women's right Activist provided first
some background and then an overview of the bill, and its aims.
This was then followed by a critique of the bill with some areas
highlighted for further deliberation and thought.
It was emphasized
that the Bill should be celebrated by civil society and women's
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as it had come a long way
since 1995 when it was first brought through the Bulawayo Women
She said the
Bill provided a comprehensive definition of violence covering physical,
economic,emotional and sexual aspects. The Bill also unpacks the
wide scope of domestic violence, describes police officers' expected
role in prevention through the provision of arrest without a warrant.
The traditional peace orders have been upgraded to protection orders
to cover financial, emotional and economic support. The justice
system's expected role is also enunciated as is enforcement.
is the establishment of the Domestic Violence Committee by the Minister
of Justice, to oversee the Act when adopted. The state recognizes
the role of NGOs and has included their representatives on the committee.
However the requirement of there being psychologists on the Committee
needed further clarification.
the Domestic Violence Bill, Theresa noted that the fact that the
bill is still being discussed to date shows that not enough seriousness
has been attached to the problem of domestic violence.
relate to the fact that unlike in similar situations with new legislation
(Inheritance), no background paper or policy document was prepared
for this Bill to provide the context within which the Bill is being
discussed with a view to becoming law. As a result, no correlation
has been done for the issues that are covered in this bill while
appearing elsewhere in the statutes. The background document would
have shown why the Bill is necessary.
As a result,
the Bill as it is now, is based on assumptions and may therefore
overestimate people's existing knowledge on domestic violence. Thus
it is unfortunate that there was no white paper to guide discussions.
was made to keep the title of the Bill as it is, since it adequately
addresses all relevant issues. The definitions are also quite comprehensive,
making the Bill an excellent piece of legislation.
There is need
however for a lot of specialized training for service providers
in the enforcement of the law otherwise not much will come out of
it. The training should include for example, sensitization of the
police as was done in the Victim Friendly Courts. Expectations should
not assume that police officers, magistrates, clerks of court are
not abusers themselves.
was made that people other than the complainant can report or seek
assistance without his/her consent. The presenter however questioned
the relationship between the principle that people should be allowed
to make their own decisions, which should be respected.
such as maintenance have been included in the protection order,
which has replaced the peace order. The latter used to restrict
movement/proximity and this in some cases affected the upkeep of
children in a case of maintenance.
was made for the Bill to propose counseling for those seeking protection
but wanting to keep their relationship. Counseling should thus be
made compulsory for parties choosing to remain together.
for an interim order to proceed with a case if the complainant withdraws
the complaint was seen as having potential to scare off the people
who may still be in love with the accused respondent.
interrogated by the presenter is that of who meets costs of Messenger
of Court. The Bill, says if desired, this could be met, but there
is room for abuse especially where the Clerk of Court may end up
making all women pay regardless of whether they wish to or not.
the Bill highlights, under section 13, that if a protection order
is violated one has to fill in an affidavit.
Based on current
experiences with affidavits, this process may become cumbersome
as it duplicates the process that brings the protection order. A
suggestion was made that this be removed as a condition as it may
delay the process and make vulnerable people more marginalized.
Although the Bill gives discretion to women, experience has taught
that this may not benefit women.
There is also
need for traditional leaders, religious groups, and other representatives
beyond the ministerial groups. Another provision questioned during
the critique of the Bill is the requirement that the Chairperson
and Deputy of the Committee should have knowledge and experience
of Psychology. It was felt that the requirement is not necessarily
rational as there may be people experienced in other relevant areas.
An issue for
further study for relevant groups is the relationship between the
Domestic Violence Bill and other Acts. A suggestion was thus made
for a protocol or guidelines to be attached to the Bill for reference.
- need for
the bill to make a provision for a programme of information sharing
for people working with the public so that some participation
on the issue takes place outside of the domestic arena.
- the Bill
seems entirely about protection orders and it does not state the
penalties as relevant.
- It is dangerous
with the lawless situation in Zimbabwe today to trust police with
powers to arrest without a warrant
under the Domestic Violence Bill should defined in other Acts
while the bill should make references to these other Acts
- There is
need for the Bill to make provision for the rehabilitation of
the perpetrator as in anger management clinics
- Bill smacks
of elitism with western ideas while it makes no reference to Zimbabwe-based
conflict resolution mechanisms e.g. Musasa, tetes, Padare
- Under offences,
the last part does not address penalties
- On laws such
as Sexual Offences Act, the Bill addresses violence within the
domestic sphere so there is need to include other laws.
- All police
officers should be trained on domestic violence as part of their
routine training. Current efforts at training for select officers
difficult due to mobility of the individual officers.
In the quest to make the Bill relevant to the local scenario what
would be the context over and above practice since law reinforces
where other avenues have failed.
- How does
the Bill respond to realities of the country, such as social problems
and needs of women? To what extent have the women been involved
in education and sensitization around domestic violence?
- There are
so many laws in place that are not being used, as they are viewed
as unfriendly or irrelevant where a woman wants to continue a
relationship despite it being abusive
- How can we
change the mindsets so we can benefit from the laws
- Medical personnel
could also be used as part of the process to expose and report
practices such as virginity testing, spirit appeasement have not
been covered enough in the Bill
- There is
need to strengthen the protection of women as a priority but this
should not be done under conditions where their rights are violated.
- The protection
orders do not use other legislation enough, could the Domestic
Violence Bill run concurrently with other Acts.
- A lot of
criminal offences acts put in alcohol as an extenuating rather
thanan exacerbating circumstance.
- It would
have been good to have a White Paper but there is need to move
forward - civil society should then take responsibility to educate
the public on the context within which the Bill has been developed.
- There is
a difference between making law and recommending amendments for
education therefore more time should be provided for consultation.
- Costs of
counseling should be provided for under section 8 where provision
should be made for resources - these could be secured through
partnership between government and civil society.
testing is covered under CEDAW but there is need to realize that
in rural areas especially, there is need for lobbying prior to
taking issues for consultation or presentation to villagers.
- The clause
that allows law enforcement officers to arrest without a warrant
should be kept on because laws are made for posterity not just
to address immediate problems.
- The Bill
had provision for a Compensation Fund but this was removed
Portfolio Committee on Gender should make copies of the Bill available
to all sectors of the community to allow for an effective consultative
- Section 12
on revocation etc not explained.
- Civil society
can coordinate process to come up with a position paper on domestic
to change the word "victim" to "survivor"
- Need to look
for and circulate the existing position papers on domestic violence
that have been circulated before.
- Need to keep
the momentum on process as in the past, activities were being
started, dying and revived
- Need to highlight
the potential for police to misuse this law to "arrest someone
for a crime that has not been committed"
- Need to improve
and ensure consultation to ensure buy-in through an advocacy campaign
- Need to build
upon traditional institutions of conflict resolution, consider
cultural aspects in legislation operationalisation
- Need to ensure
that the well crafted legislation is implementable
- Women's Coalition
volunteered to circulate position paper from before as they have
it although it may need updating
- UNIFEM also
willing to coordinate the process
noted that more meetings would enable the gender committee to do
a proper job. She also said she would discuss the possibility of
extending the time for consultation with the Minister.
from the Diaspora
By Kim Richards
in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of ZWRCN)
abuse is mentioned I feel there needs to the words marital rape
some place in this bill. For example ""sexual abuse"
means any conduct that humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates
the sexual integrity of the complainant, including marital rape/sexual
covered under another area on the bill already, I think I would
like to see something mentioned about how women who are in Zimbabwe
because their spouse is a Zimbabwean and they are not a citizen
of Zimbabwe, should not be allowed to be threatened by their husbands
with removal from the country. This is a tactic used by some men
trying to control their wife and children. In fact the whole immigration
act needs to be amended to protect women especially women with children
who may be Zimbabwean citizens, though the women may not be a citizen
The Bill mentions
duties of a domestic violence counsellor, but nothing about their
qualifications, and who certifies them. As counsellor I thought
that was odd.
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