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

  • Debate on Domestic Violence Bill persists
    The Herald (Zimbabwe)
    October 05, 2006

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

    DEBATE on the Domestic Violence Bill which seeks to provide protection and relief to victims dominated proceedings in the House of Assembly on Tuesday with legislators calling for stiffer sentences against perpetrators of the offence.

    Both Zanu-PF and MDC legislators supported the proposed law, saying it was long overdue.

    Yesterday the debate continued with MDC Member of the House of Assembly for Tafara-Mabvuku Mr Timothy Mubawu causing a stir when he said the Domestic Violence Bill was "diabolic" alleging that it was against Godís principles that women and men should be equal.

    Contributing to the second reading debate of the proposed law, Mr Mubawu urged the House not to pass the Bill.

    "I stand here representing God Almighty. Women are not equal to men," he said amid jeers from women parliamentarians.

    "It is a dangerous Bill and let it be known in Zimbabwe that the right, privilege and status of men is gone. I stand here alone and say this Bill should not be passed in this House. It is a diabolic Bill. Our powers are being usurped daylight in this House."

    The proposed law, Mr Mubhawu said, was crafted in a manner that promoted western cultural values.

    He argued that the Bill would only serve the purpose of winning the support of women in politics as opposed to dealing with domestic violence.

    Mr Mubawu said the issue of proper dressing by women should also be addressed in the Bill as "some of the dressing by women is too inviting."

    Women in positions of authority, he said, should be role models in their marriages.

    "Women leaders in Government, judiciary and Parliament should be exemplary by at least marrying," he said.

    Science and Technology Development Minister Cde Olivia Muchena said it was sad to note that some parliamentarians were trivialising important issues such as the need to curb domestic violence.

    "You have a honourable member Mubawu claiming that God is on his side. We are equal in spirit. We might be different in the biological make-up but before God we are equal," she said.

    The minister said the proposed legislation needed to be simplified in order to educate children on how to deal with domestic violence.

    Chief Mudzimurema of Mashonaland East said information from the rural communities indicated that the Bill could result in marriage breakdowns.

    He said some men were of the view that it was difficult to stay with a wife who would have reported the husband to the police resulting in prosecution and a jail sentence.

    The chief said the Bill should be modified in such a manner that it take into account customary and traditional values.

    Kadoma West legislator Cde Zacharia Ziyambi (Zanu-PF) said there should more consultations and the Bill should not be fast-tracked.

    "Varume tirimuriva tikabvuma isusu. We should take the proposed law to the people because we seem to be fighting against our cultural values," he said.

    On Tuesday the issue of "small houses" (the growing practice of married men having and paying for the upkeep of mistresses) also came under spotlight with members saying this must be addressed in the Bill.

    They said "small houses" were one of the major causes of domestic violence.

    It was recommended that there was need for proposed statutes to be readily available to people in Shona, Ndebele and English, the official languages in Zimbabwe.

    Adequate resources should also be availed for the smooth implementation of the envisaged law.

    In his second reading speech, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa said domestic violence had resulted in the death or maiming of women.

    There was no law adequately addressing the issue of violence within the family as this was being equated to common law offences such as assault.

    "This had tended to limit the scope of domestic violence which has resulted in many deaths," Cde Chinamasa said.

    The minister said the psychological effects of domestic violence were far reaching especially on children who witnessed such violence.

    What was unique about the proposed statute was that an application for a protection order by a victim of domestic violence could be made outside court-operating hours and the courts had to deal with such applications urgently

    Contributing to the debate, chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Cde Shadreck Chipanga said the committee fully supported the Bill.

    Cde Chipanga, who is Makoni East Member of the House of Assembly (Zanu-PF), said the committee recommended stiffer penalties against perpetrators of domestic violence as opposed to the option of a fine stipulated in the proposed law.

    The Bill provides that any person who commits an act of domestic violence shall be guilty of an offence liable to a fine not exceeding level 14 ($25 000) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years or both.

    Cde Chipanga said the envisaged anti-domestic violence committee should be transformed into a board to facilitate proper handling of issues related to domestic violence.

    The committee also recommended that the issue of in-laws who refuse to bury their daughters over non-payment of lobola should be treated as part of domestic violence.

    MDC chief whip and Mutare Central legislator Mr Innocent Gonese said the opposition backed the Bill.

    "This is a most important Bill which must be supported by all honourable members. What is important is for all of us to realise that physical violence has no room in a modern civilised society," he said amid applause from the floor.

    Mr Gonese said it was important for members to familiarise themselves with the proposed law since some of them could be perpetrators of domestic violence.

    Gutu South Member of the House of Assembly Cde Shuvai Mahofa (Zanu-PF) said campaigns should be undertaken to educate the nation on the Bill.

    She, however, said a lot of domestic violence cases were not being treated with the seriousness they deserved, particularly by traditional leaders.

    Chief Jermitiya Mabika of Masvingo said it was important to note that the manner in which traditional leaders presided over their community courts was different from the way magistrates operated in civil and criminal courts.

    He said chiefs presided over customary issues in line with tradition and culture.

    Chief Cyprian Malisa of Midlands said there was a deafening silence in the Bill on the role to be played by chiefs in curbing domestic violence.

    Traditional leaders, he said, were competent to deal with some of the cases of domestic violence in a short space of time unlike at the courts where such cases would remain pending for years.

    The chief said he did not understand the rationale of classifying virginity testing under domestic violence, arguing that the practice was being done to safeguard young girls against sexual abuse.

    Chief Malisa said police should be trained in proper handling of domestic cases as currently some officers were taking advantage of the victims of domestic violence by sexually abusing them.

    MDC leader in the House and Nkulumane legislator Mr Gibson Sibanda said the economic challenges facing the country were largely to blame for the increasing incidence of domestic violence.

    He said while the Bill had noble intentions, the root causes of domestic violence, among them poverty, should be looked into.

    St Maryís lawmaker Mr Job Sikhala (MDC) said members of the House were among perpetrators of domestic violence.

    "The majority of the people who will be caught by this Bill are not people out there but they are here," he said.

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