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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
Violence Bill gazetted
July 01, 2006
the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence
has gazetted the Domestic
Violence Bill to deal with the scourge that has left many dead
and some maimed.
The Bill is in line with the United Nationsí call for global action
to end violence mostly perpetrated against women hence the Convention
on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW) that Zimbabwe has signed and ratified.
The proposed legislation aims to afford victims of domestic violence
the maximum protection the law can provide and to introduce measures
which seek to ensure that the relevant organs of the State give
full effect to the provisions of the proposed law.
Under the Bill, the meaning and scope of domestic violence would
be outlined since under the current common law offences, there is
no offence called domestic violence.
The case had been that once any form of domestic violence was reported
to the police, it would be slotted into any of the common law offences
of common assault, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily
harm, indecent assault among others.
That is intended to limit the scope of domestic violence as any
other act of domestic violence that failed to fit in the existing
common law offences would not be considered as an offence.
The phenomenon of domestic violence has for long been conceived
primarily as a private family affair to be resolved silently within
the walls of the home.
The Bill seeks to widen the scope of domestic violence to include
physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, verbal and psychological
abuse, economic abuse, intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage
to property, entry into complainantís place without consent where
the parties do not share the same residence.
It also includes depriving or hindering the complainant access to
his or her place of residence, depriving the complainant of a reasonable
share of the use of facilities associated with his or her place
In the Bill, also considered as domestic violence is the abuse derived
from any cultural or customary rites or practices that discriminate
or degrade women such as forced virginity testing, female genital
mutilation, pledging of women and girls for purposes of appeasing
spirits, abduction, child marriages, forced marriages, forced wife
inheritance and other such practices.
The abuse perpetrated by virtue of a personís age, physical or mental
incapacity, is also considered as domestic violence in the Bill.
The proposed law makes it mandatory for every police station to
have a section to deal with domestic violence matters and also places
a legal duty on the police to assist victims.
It makes it incumbent on the police to assist victims to obtain
shelter, medical treatment and in any other way.
The police would also be supposed to advise victims of their right
to choose to make a report or have a statement recorded by a police
officer of the same sex.
Every police station would be obliged to have a domestic violence
section to be manned by officers trained to handle domestic violence
cases where it is possible.
If passed into law, the police would also be empowered to arrest
forthwith without a warrant any person reasonably suspected to have
committed or who threatens to commit an act of domestic violence.
Any person arrested would be required to be brought before a magistrate
within 48 hours.
Under the proposed law, an Anti-Domestic Violence Committee whose
members shall be representatives of various Government ministries
and departments and private voluntary organisations specialising
in issues related to domestic violence, childrenís rights and womenís
A chairperson and deputy chairperson would head the committee that
would keep under constant review the problem of domestic violence
and to monitor the application and enforcement of the proposed law.
Most cases of domestic violence in Zimbabwe have been attributed
to a combination of factors, among them are accusations of infidelity,
alcohol abuse, poor or lack of communication and interference from
members of the extended family.
The proposed law comes in the wake of recent concerns by parliamentarians
on the escalation of domestic violence cases in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has over the years seen the victimisation of women by men,
who have traditionally occupied the centres of power in society.
A Chisumbanje man once allegedly fatally assaulted his wife for
feeding their dog close to where he was sleeping.
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