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

  • Domestic Violence Bill read for second time
    The Herald (Zimbabwe)
    October 06, 2006

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

    THE Domestic Violence Bill which seeks to provide for protection and relief to victims was yesterday read for the second time in the House of Assembly.

    The proposed legislation will go to the committee stage on October 17.

    Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa told the House that he would move a number of amendments during the committee stage.

    He was responding to concerns raised by lawmakers during the second reading debate.

    The amendments included giving chiefsí community courts the jurisdiction to preside over domestic violence cases and mandate to issue protection orders to victims of domestic violence.

    The two ministries of education would form part of the envisaged anti-domestic violence committee that would be transformed into a board with the view to facilitating proper management of issues concerning domestic violence.

    Other amendments to be made include the deletion of the term "jealous tendencies" as constituting domestic violence. This was because naturally spouses feel jealous of each other.

    Responding to concerns by some legislators that the Bill would erode some cultural values, Cde Chinamasa said Zimbabweans should move away from a system of condoning domestic violence in the name of culture.

    Culture, he said, was not statistic but dynamic with the agent of transformation being justice and truth.

    "We should not justify violence against our women, wives and children because we are afraid to look at the dark parts of our cupboard," Cde Chinamasa said.

    "We are trying to correct what happens in the dark. We cannot proceed in the manner that we are doing to the detriment of our wives."

    Parliamentarians, he said, should take note that the proposed law was not only seeking to criminalise domestic violence but had provisions for counseling of the victims, adding that traditional leaders would also be part of the counseling team.

    The minister dismissed claims by some lawmakers that there was need for more consultations on the Bill, saying there had been enough consultations spanning for more than 10 years on the proposed law.

    "Sometimes we speak with a forked tongue. We want democracy at the national level but at the household level we are the worst dictators," he said, amid laughter from the floor.

    Turning to the proposals by stakeholders for mandatory sentence against perpetrators of domestic violence, Cde Chinamasa said this would be difficult to apply in view of the spectrum nature of cases of domestic violence.

    He urged non-governmental organisations to support the Government in the implementation of the proposed statute in the form of offering financial assistance in the training of police officers, magistrates and counsellors.

    The minister lashed out at comments made by Tafara-Mabvuku legislator Mr Timothy Mubawu (MDC) that the Bill was "diabolic" and should not be passed in the House.

    Mr Mubawu told the House on Wednesday that the proposed law was against Godís principles that women and men should not be equal.

    Cde Chinamasa said the contribution by the opposition lawmaker was provocative.

    "You know the devil can quote the Bible when he wants to subvert the people. We cannot accept that in this day of age. Men and women are equal. I hope that the primitive language that was used by Honourable Mubawu is not shared," he said.

    Marriages, Cde Chinamasa said, were not built on violence but on love and mutual respect, adding that this was lacking in society. Contributing to the debate, Chief George Chimombe of Manicaland said the Bill was noble although it should be crafted in a manner that that did not erode some of the core cultural values.

    "If we do not follow our culture, then our dignity would be eroded as Africans. We must make laws that endure the test of time," he said..

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