Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
seeks to promote domestic harmony
Mapimhidze, The Herald (Zimbabwe)
June 13, 2006
the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence
Violence Bill, drafted 10 years ago, was approved about two
weeks ago and should be tabled in Parliament soon.
The Bill, which aims at promoting domestic harmony will also provide
long term measures for the prevention of domestic violence.
constitute the majority that suffers domestic violence from their
spouses, men too are subjected to different forms of abuse from
affected by domestic violence and the Bill speaks to us at a very
personal level. We all know which form of domestic violence we perpetrate
and we must stop.
"The Bill also
speaks about challenging power in relationships in a very big way.
We have heard of men that are abused by their wives and these will
be protected by this legislation," said Ms Emilia Muchawa from the
Lawyers’ Association at a meeting held recently in Harare to
discuss the Bill.
She urged men
not to view domestic violence as a husband and wife affair but to
look at it as conflict between parents, sister and brother-in-law
or brother and sister-in-law.
for instance, blamed the victim and will ask what she had done to
get that beating.
structures have not served to stop domestic violence hence there
was need to come up with legislation to assist such people," she
All people in
any form of a relationship will benefit from the Bill and these
include a current, former wife or husband; all children whether
born in or out of wedlock, adopted or step children; people living
with the perpetrator of violence, for example relatives or domestic
or boyfriend whether current or former will also benefit from the
the duty of care even when you break up. But it would seem men and
women trail each other because there always seems to be unfinished
business," said Ms Muchawa.
But what is
The Bill describes
domestic violence as physical violence that includes hitting, kicking,
and punching and any other manner of physical abuse or assault or
threat of such physical assault.
including rape, indecent assault, unwanted sexual touching or exposure
or any act that degrades another person also contribute to domestic
There have been
instances where a jilted partner resorts to smashing or destroying
property that is either jointly owned or belongs to another person.
This action also constitutes domestic violence.
and psychological abuse and this would include repeated insults,
ridicule, name calling or repeated threats to cause emotional pain,
obsessive jealousy and any behaviour likely to cause mental injury
is also listed as a form of domestic violence.
"A lot of people
have lost self esteem, mumble to themselves and have developed all
sorts of chronic conditions like high blood pressure because of
verbal abuse from a spouse," said Ms Muchawa.
had totally lost their minds and were on permanent mental treatment
a result caused by many years of psychological abuse.
which includes watching or loitering around a person’s home or workplace,
telephoning a person’s home or sending messages to a person’s home
and stalking is all tantamount to domestic violence.
Entry into the
residence of another person without consent where the parties are
no longer living together is also liable to prosecution.
by some cultural practices that discriminate or degrade women like
virginity testing, female genital mutilation, pledging of women
and girls for appeasement of spirits, child marriages, forced marriages,
forced wife inheritance and sexual contact between fathers-in-law
and newly married daughters in law is violation of a person’s rights
under this Bill.
There is a practice
in Zimbabwe where a bride is expected to first be intimate with
a bridegroom’s father before they consummate their marriage (through
a practice known as nolo yemwizana among the Venda people), and
this has received condemnation given the high prevalence of HIV
and Aids in Zimbabwe.
The beauty of
this Bill is that, while in the past it was the victim of violence
that was required to make a police report; there is provision for
other people to apply for a Protection order on behalf of the victim.
This could be
any person allowed by the victim to apply for them; a person looking
after the victim who is below 18 years of age or any person representing
the victim, without the victim’s permission but with the permission
of the courts.
order is an order given by a magistrate’s court against a person
causing domestic violence in any form, which is meant to ensure
that such a person does not continue to commit the violence. This
may also order the person committing the violence to pay maintenance
where there is economic violence.
includes deprivation of economic resources meant for family use
such as household necessities, medical expenses or school fees.
It also includes unreasonable disposal of household assets or other
property like a house and denying the right to engage in income
generating activity to seek employment.
order directs the perpetrator to stop the violence and when issued
with a warrant of arrest, if breached the perpetrator of violence
is subject to arrest. In the past, women would make a report and
withdraw the matter. There are many reasons why the women did that
and this basically because they have lost their self esteem and
cannot exist without the perpetrator of violence," Ms Muchawa said.
the cases for fear of retribution. And what happens when the perpetrator
breaks the protection order terms?
A repeated breach
of the order results in an offence and liability to imprisonment
for up to five years.
The order may
remain in force for at least five years but may be cancelled or
changed by a court where there are changed circumstances — after
hearing the matter.
In cases where
an offence is also an offence under criminal law, the sentences
under the Domestic Violence Bill will be stiffer.
The courts will
consider written evidence, which may include medical evidence, based
on police report or oral evidence by the victim, the perpetrator
and any witness. If someone lies in an affidavit for a protection
order, it is an offence that can lead to imprisonment of up to 20
research by Musasa
Project in 1999, at least one in four women in Zimbabwe were
subject to some form of domestic violence but the figure could be
higher at the moment.
for conflict in the home today include economic hardships, social
problems including those that revolve around HIV and Aids.
one’s HIV positive status in the case of women leads to emotional
and physical abuse, divorce, death or ostracisation.
Ms Muchawa said
there was need for the establishment of safe houses to temporarily
accommodate survivors of domestic violence.
an NGO that deals with counselling and rehabilitation of survivors
of domestic violence has a couple of safe houses and the Government
has only one in Gweru.
Those who eventually
turn up at these shelters would have endured as much as 10 years
of physical, sexual and psychological violence. Some have endured
violence whilst they were pregnant.
African governments did not acknowledge domestic violence and yet
statistics indicate that a third to more than half of women surveyed
(World Bank report 1997) were beaten by a partner.
is often not defined to include hitting without serious injury,
women do not complain or seek help unless the violence is serious,
according to a research by Beyond Inequalities a series of publications
that profile women in Southern Africa.
"By the time
they gather courage to ask for help, the problem has grown so much
that it is almost impossible to get a solution . . .," the institute
Violence Bill provides for a domestic violence committee made up
of government representatives, non governmental organisations specialising
in women’s and children’s issues, churches and traditional leaders.
Their role would include keeping under review the problem of domestic
violence; information dissemination and awareness on the rising
problem; promotion of research, service provision and monitoring.
would also promote implementation of the Act and also promote the
establishment of safe houses.
signatory to and has ratified several agreements and conventions
pertaining to gender equality, elimination of violence against women
and protection of children.
the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination
against Women (Cedaw), The Beijing Declaration and Platform for
Action (BDPFA) of 1995, The Southern African Development Community’s
(Sadc) Gender and Development Declaration of 1997 and its addendum
on violence against women and children signed in 1998.
also signatory to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of September
2000, United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Declaration
on HIV and Aids in June 2001 and is committed to the 2004 UN secretary
general’s task force on women, girls and HIV/Aids.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.