Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
Violence Bill must pass through unopposed
October 20, 2006
Violence Bill currently being debated in Parliament has been
under construction and consultation for over six years now, and
has finally been tabled for what should have been safe passage into
law. Instead it has triggered off a turf war.
have clamoured for this Bill for such a long time now in the face
of many forms of brutal violence in the very place they should feel
safest - their own homes. The women's movement has indeed done the
country proud by relentlessly campaigning against violence perpetrated
on women. They have called for a law to protect families, women
and children from the senseless beatings, killings, rape, incest,
child molestation that haunt most of Zimbabwe's families today.
that one in every three women in Zimbabwe has experienced some form
of domestic or sexual assault.
reports as well as cases before the magistrates' courts everyday
reflect a shocking rampancy of the violence perpetrated against
women and the girl child in Zimbabwe today. The culprits come from
all walks of life; the rural, the urban, the educated, the rich,
the poor in tattered clothes, the everyday man you encounter on
the streets of Harare or at the Growth Point. The same man instils
fear, pain and much humiliation on the very people who prepare his
meals and generally take care of him; the very people he should
crime and scandal of our lifetime as a nation is that we have allowed
these depraved actions to be perpetrated with impunity. Despite
the fact that this issue has been continuously discussed as one
of the numerous problems faced by the country, it is pitiful to
note the emotional and loud outbursts being made by a minority of
men bent on sustaining the humiliation that women have endured over
the ages. Women have not taken this while lying down, though. Rather,
through their boldness and courage they have stood up to such bullying
by continuing to press for this bill and turning out to march in
I am truly disappointed
by the unfortunate statements that are being naively and ignorantly
uttered by such men as Timothy Mabhawu, Member of Parliament for
Mabvuku and Tafara. I just cannot bring myself to honour this man
as he dishonours himself, his mother, his wife, his daughter and
his sisters. So I have no reason to address him as 'honourable'.
As a member of the MDC, he supposedly represents a "better
life for all and an alternative agenda for change that brings a
new beginning for Zimbabwe". Which Zimbabweans does he represent,
I wonder? He fools himself into believing he is now representing
God. What blasphemy!
Even more disappointing
is the reported convergence of opinion between some opposing male
parliamentarians across party and factional lines within the MDC,
to oppose the Domestic Violence Bill. If their objective is to perpetuate
the desecration, plundering and destruction of women's bodies and
lives, then Zimbabwe is truly doomed as long as they sit in such
It is extremely
sad that we live in a society where we actually need a law to protect
women in their own homes and the force of state apparatus such as
the police to provide protection to those harmed by a member of
their own family. It is particularly sad to think that there are
men who think, like Mabhawu, that their rights, privileges, status
and their powers are derived from killing, beating, raping and torturing
women in their own families. In some way, Mabhawu has done this
nation's men-folk a favour; he has provided them with an
opportunity to reflect on their convictions, their values and their
beliefs when it comes to the treatment of the women in their lives.
a man to raise his hand to his wife and to stab or shoot her to
death? What sickness causes a man to have an erection at the sight
of his two-year-old sister or niece? What kind of man molests his
13-year-old student? The list of horrors women and girls suffer
in our society is long.
We must applaud
the insistence on the part of the media in continuously exposing
these hideous crimes against humanity, and the brave fight by the
women's NGOs and Padare.
We must celebrate the resoluteness of the Ministry of Women's Affairs
under the able leadership of Honourable Minister Opah Muchinguri
in rescuing this Bill which had been shelved somewhere within the
Ministry of Justice's filing cabinets, and advancing it with the
support of women's NGOs to the stage of the current parliamentary
Now the onus
is on our legislators. This Bill provides them with an opportunity
to debate about the state of a society where 60 percent of female
murder victims die at the hands of their husband or lover. They
should reflect on the thousands of young girls whose prospects of
a good and happy childhood or a successful future are shattered
by rape which they cannot even talk about. They are national leaders
with the power to make a difference through the law. How have they
allowed, for a long time, today's slap to become next week's kick,
which then progresses into a shove and a slam against the wall in
three months time before, ultimately, turning into a murder in a
must allow the Domestic Violence Bill 2006 to pass unopposed. They
owe it to the many dead, maimed, crippled and scarred women and
girls. They owe it to those women sexually harassed, rapped, molested
and violated by their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, lovers, boyfriends,
husbands, teachers, headmasters, bosses or workmates. They owe it
to their daughters and granddaughters including those yet to be
born. They owe it to the well-being and future of our nation.
Indeed, a law
by itself is not the end of gender based violence; it however is
the end of a period where impunity reigns. This soon-to-be law will
not change the opinions of Mabhawu and the like-minded. However,
legislation can regulate behaviour, penalise and consequently restrain
a husband from beating his wife to pulp. This law can empower and
protect families to stop hideous crimes perpetrated in their midst.
This law empowers
the community to take responsibility for the crimes blatantly perpetuated
in our midst yet without recourse. It will be an avenue for justice,
for security, for protection and citizenship empowerment. Legislation
has proved that with the state upholding it, social norms eventually
conform to it and this would mean elimination of domestic violence
in our lives.
this Bill into law, we advance our country and our people to a new
era that creates new possibilities for our families, communities
and our nation. We will have chosen to assert the dignity of our
mothers and sisters and refused to be part of a system and a society
that allow barbaric violence in our homes and on our persons.
This would be
a legacy to be proud of.
is a political activist working with an international NGO as the
Pan- Africa women's rights and gender advisor.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.