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This article participates on the following special index pages:

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


  • Can Zimbabwe really protect women against domestic violence?1 A personal reflection
    Tafadzwa Muropa
    June 30, 2008

    As I reflect on the sudden loss of my friend Yemurai2, who was murdered by her ex-husband in early June, I see myself so helpless as to how I can ensure that other women out there do not fall into the same vicious cycle of brutal violence.

    It-s almost 2 years since women and men in Zimbabwe celebrated the enactment of the Domestic Violence Bill, which President Robert Mugabe passed it into law on the 29th of October 2006. This brought so much relief to many women in Zimbabwe for many women activists and movements had lobbied for a law that would protect women and girls from all acts of violence upon then. The law also protects men who have been facing violence from their female counterparts within their families or in their business activities.

    However, I personally feel that not many women are aware of the existence of such a law, or if they are, they still need to be guaranteed that if they report acts of domestic violence to the police officers, their lives will be protected.

    Yemurai, who had so much to look forward to in life, and had a 3 year old daughter, did not manage to celebrate her 26th birthday when her ex-husband decided to end her life after having engaged in a heated dispute. To make matters worse, the local police had reported that before she was shot dead, she had been raped in full view of her daughter and later shot whilst her daughter saw the horrific act. Reflecting on such a horrific act, I wonder if women are doing enough to support each other when one of us is in deep trouble!

    As I write this article, 3 weeks on, the ex-husband was supposed to go on trial for murder in towards the last week of June, but the latest news from Yemurai-s family was indicating that he was released on bail, and this becomes more painful as I was hoping that the legal system would do justice to Yemurai's family....No one knows whether the perpetrator will still come after his daughter or Yemurai-s family, or even be given a stiffer sentencing for killing Yemurai.

    Various organizations3 in Zimbabwe and the world over have been denouncing violence against women and how it leads to many women contracting HIV-AIDS, but I still challenge more organizations to support women-s organizations and other movements not to get weary in this fight for the right to life of all people, especially for women and girls. People like Yemurai's ex-husband should not be left free, roaming around in the community because they are bound to do the same thing to other women. After this tragic event, I do not believe that many women are safe in their homes, or in their communities.

    After all has been said and done, as women advocating for our rights, I personally feel that our first priority is the fight for the right to life, to advocate for policies that ensure that our lives are protected and if there are cases where we are threatened by our male counterparts, we should ensure that the law officers including the police officers will be ready to assist us and offer protection from the male perpetrators that might have the propensity to be violent towards us! This is also not divorced from the impact of political violence on women and girls in Zimbabwe at the moment and how it is important to continue lobbying and advocating for an end to all forms of violence

    I personally know that by putting my thoughts an feelings on this paper, this will not bring my dear friend back from the dead, but it can be a beginning for me and other women who have been affected by domestic violence to ensure that more women and girls begin to even make more noise and denounce all forms of violence!

    *Tafadzwa Muropa is a programme officer on Adequate Housing at Swedish Co-operative Centre-Regional Office for Southern Africa, (SCC ROSA) and writes this article in her personal capacity. She is also an individual member of Women-s Coalition in Zimbabwe and FEMNET.


    Notes:

    1. This brief article is a tribute to my dear friend, who lost her life on the 6th of June 2008 in a domestic dispute with her ex-husband. I have used a fake name so as to protect her family. I am hoping that through this article, more women in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world over would never stop to ensure that more women are protected by the law against domestic violence and all forms of violence.

    2. The name is not real as there is need to protect the family-s privacy.

    3. Organizations like Action Aid International, OSISA, ICW (International Coalition of Women against HIV-AIDS), Women-s Coalition in Zimbabwe, Women and Aids Support Network, Padare-Men-s Forum on Gender (Zimbabwe), ZWLA (Zimbabwe Women-s Lawyers Association), Msasa Project (Zimbabwe), Women-s Action Group (WAG), among other organizations at national level and global level.

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