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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill

  • Domestic Violence Bill gazetted
    The Herald (Zimbabwe)
    July 01, 2006

    View the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence Bill

    GOVERNMENT 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 of residence.

    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 rights.

    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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