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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: A very good law
I salute the
Government of Zimbabwe for coming up with this eminently progressive
of legislation, previously unthinkable.
I equally acknowledge
that since independence in 1980, a deep evolution has taken place
in terms of the laws that have advanced the cause of women in both
urban and rural areas.
story of women in this country has been one of significant momentum.
In the past, women of Zimbabwe were not supposed to own anything;
neither did they have the bargaining clout to insist on anything.
But at least now they have a real choice, real power over their
violence can and does happen to anyone, irrespective of either female
or male but it is women by and large who have been on the receiving
end of this barbaric thing. Because of the way women have been socialised
into our societies from childhood, boys grow up believing that it
is their right to beat up women as a way of disciplining them.
real problem is not men as such but rather a particular form of
masculinity which invariably wants to oppress and subject women.
Many a time, the passive role which women are diffusively socialised
from childhood can get to bizarre levels, for example, accepting
to be battered as if it is something natural in the context of dubious
cultural values and norms.
is no such thing as violence in the name of local culture. But women
do generally sell themselves short in these things. In the area
of public speaking for example, how many times have men got up in
public meetings to ask questions of dubious relevance or stunning
banality with great self-confidence.
Women, on the
other hand, will tend to come up privately afterwards and preface
a perhaps much more penetrating and perceptive question with "I
hope this isn’t too silly a question …" or "this may not
be relevant, but…". Oh, woman, come on woman, there is nothing
silly or irrelevant about your question—just ask it!
able, competent women are often rather reticent about voicing their
opinions confidently. Sometimes, a civil war breaks out in their
stomachs and they have to rush to the toilet many times before finally
plucking up Dutch courage to stand up and speak. How sad that, as
a result, women under-estimate their own abilities and often under-
achieve accordingly. By doing this, women fail themselves and their
On the other
hand, for a woman to be opinionated and assertive is to cease to
conform to the female stereotype and to be liable to be branded
as brash and unfeminine. And I dare say that many women with strong,
well thought-out views and opinions are still impressed by this
kind of put–down. What a hard life for the women of this world!
That is why
at least in one of the critical areas of concern for women (and
men as well) namely domestic violence, I see this proposed bill
in a much more positive and favourable light. This bill, which seeks
to provide protection and great relief to victims of domestic violence
in this country is some kind of watershed in their own history and
that of this nation.
It will never
be the same again for the bastards who derive pleasure from battering
What a wise
decision to rein in perpetrators of domestic violence under a specific
law that deals specially with this issue. This proposed law has
broken new ground and the gender-insensitive Mubawus of this world
will not sleep easily whether during daytime or at night.
these dinosaurs like Timothy Mubawu are a dying breed. Actually,
they now belong to a dead zone and rightly so. Believing in equality
between men and women should no longer be an issue in this day and
age but negative public attitudes die hard, of course.
This is the
by and large there is very little that is offensive about this bill,
the point must be made that the State has no right to go into the
bedrooms of this nation. We all abhor domestic violence. But it
does seem that the institution of marriage is at risk from the legal
consequences from the issue of the denial of conjugal rights.
Clause 3 of
the bill which delves into what is reasonable or unreasonable denial
of conjugal rights as part of psychological and emotional abuse
detracts from the broad consensus and from what is essentially a
very good law and introduces a needless controversial issue. Who
is to define what is unreasonable and what is reasonable?
These are sensitive
matters and one man’s meat is another man’s poison. True, a certain
solidarity is emerging around this bill about the need to confront
domestic violence head-on but for those of us who care passionately
about this issue are deeply unhappy that the State can sit in judgement
of what is essentially a private and sensitive matter. This will
have huge implications on the moral fabric of the Zimbabwean society.
It is important
that women, in their just national struggle to achieve equality,
men became allies rather than formidable adversaries. As the revolution
in their expectations continues, the importance of women and men
standing shoulder to shoulder cannot therefore be over-emphasised.
Men must play a very crucial role in all of this.
I do not want
to dramatise the issue but I must say that I find it quite worrying
that the State finds it necessary to negotiate, on behalf of couples,
terms of entry into whatever! The idea of the State playing the
role of advocacy or coercion in these matters is totally repugnant
to me —and naturally all Zimbabweans—but perhaps not to Patrick
Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
cannot be any worse psychological abuse than denial of conjugal
rights. I have seen people in this condition on the point of almost
going berserk," opined Chinamasa last Tuesday in Parliament
amid roaring laughter from the floor of the house.
Yes, you might
have seen that Chinamasa but what has that got to do with you? Going
berserk or not, what is your business in that Patrick? For you Chinamasa
to get involved in conjugal rights on behalf of the State would
simply be in effect to endorse a monstrous invasion of personal
privacy of couples to no good purpose. It is not as if there are
any consideration of public interest to justify State involvement.
There may be
an interested public but there is no issue of public concern. For
the State to get involved would satisfy only prurience. It will
be an example of what I would describe as Peeping Tom journalism
that would uphold no principle, meet no legitimate public requirement
and do no good to the public reputation of the State and your own
reputation Chinamasa as the pilot of this bill.
By way of conclusion,
I want to underscore the fact that this has been a much-awaited
law. Sustainable development begins and ends with women. Measures
and laws to empower women through, for an example, education, employment,
health, economic opportunity, human rights, poverty reduction and
tackling domestic violence in a serious way must be introduced and
implemented on a continuing basis. That will ensure that equality
for women throughout the Zimbabwean society becomes utterly irreversible.
The very nature
of reality is that of change. The days of dinosaurs sheltering behind
culture are dead and buried. It makes good economic and demographic
sense to invest in woman – in all areas of endeavour and in all
walks of life.
Chakaodza can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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