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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
fight violence in the home
September 17, 2007
the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence
Traditional leaders in
Zimbabwe's Masvingo Province, in the southeast of the country, are
partnering with gender activists in a bid to curb domestic violence.
with traditional leaders started when we approached them [for help]
in publicising the Domestic
Violence Bill before it was signed into law ... early this year,"
said Mabel Sikhosana, Masvingo provincial coordinator of the Women's
Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCZ), an umbrella body for organisations
fighting for the rights of women and girls.
chiefs are generally patriarchal, she told IRIN that activists had
been pleasantly surprised by their commitment and willingness to
speak out against domestic violence, and chiefs in all of the province's
seven districts were actively supporting outreach programmes for
the eradication of domestic violence.
"What we did was
to first hold meetings with traditional chiefs, where we would first
sensitise them about issues to do with domestic violence,"
Sikhosana explained. "This is actually a pilot project, but
some chiefs who heard about our work would invite us to come and
address their communities on issues to do with domestic violence,
including HIV/AIDS, women's and girls' rights, and gender equality."
The project, funded by
the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), aims to promote
the effective use of legislation in combating domestic violence
and creating awareness of the rights of women and girls.
"The pilot project
on the Domestic Violence Act will enable all stakeholders to jointly
uphold and protect the rights of women and children, thereby favouring
the emergence of a just and equitable society conducive for sustainable
development and poverty reduction," the Canadian ambassador
to Zimbabwe, Roxanne Dube, told IRIN.
"If the realities
and voices of half of the population are not fully recognised, the
reduction of poverty and the creation of a more secure, equitable
and prosperous world will remain a distant dream," she said.
CIDA is also funding
the Girl Child Community Gender, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Capacity
Building Programme, which aims to increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS
issues and is largely based in rural areas, where the project hopes
to reach up to 10,000 girls aged 18 and below.
In the process, the programme
will train 300 coordinators, 200 traditional, religious and local
leaders, 100 law enforcement agents and up to 5,000 members of the
"The project stems
from the recognition that awareness and knowledge about issues on
HIV/AIDS, the girl child and gender equity are critical to the development
of girl children, and contribute to the elimination of discriminatory
social and cultural practices that subordinate and marginalise them,"
campaigns pay off
According to Netsai Mushonga,
national coordinator of the WCZ, programmes designed to disseminate
information about domestic violence, and particularly awareness
programmes for the vulnerability and needs of the girl child, were
starting to bear fruit: "Domestic violence in some areas where
we have done awareness campaigns is no longer acceptable."
The Domestic Violence
Bill was signed into law on 13 February 2007 by President Robert
Mugabe and gazetted soon after, but the Act will not come into force
until the President fixes the date of commencement by Statutory
Instrument, which allows different dates of commencement to be fixed
for different provisions.
All major police stations
have victim-friendly offices, which are supposed to be manned by
officers who have received training in how to handle cases of sexual
Sgt Choice Chikuni, of
the Victim Friendly Programme, told a meeting of women in Masvingo
town, the provincial capital, that as a result of the absence of
a commencement date for the Act, it was difficult to handle cases
of violence in homes. "In most cases ... we are treating cases
of domestic violence as common assault."
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