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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
on Domestic Violence Bill persists
October 05, 2006
the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence
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 God’s 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
"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
"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,"
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
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
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
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
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
He said while the Bill had noble intentions,
the root causes of domestic violence, among them poverty, should
be looked into.
St Mary’s 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,"
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