|Laws deterring women from reporting abuse|
|Saturday, 16 June 2012 21:59|
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Sunday News ReporterZIMBABWE enacted the Domestic Violence Act in 2007 for the protection and relief of victims of domestic violence, but was this new law a blessing or a curse?
What good is a deterrent sentence when it leaves a family without a breadwinner, a wife without a husband and children fatherless?
When it creates a gulf between a woman and her in-laws, and a void that can never be filled at home?
When children have to withdraw from school because their father is in prison, a woman does not get protection, support and relief. She gets insecurity and trauma!
The fact that the State punishes the abuser but does not look after those left behind is an oversight that begs for immediate attention.
Could the Domestic Violence Act be deterring women from reporting cases of abuse as perpetrators face serious sentences, leaving women with no source of income as the men are breadwinners?
Statistics revealed by the Attorney General (AG)’s office state that one in 10 cases of domestic violence is prosecuted, while the remainder are withdrawn.
“One in 10 cases is prosecuted for domestic violence and these are disturbing facts,’’ said a representative from the AG’s office.
According to experts, there is a high rate of withdrawal of cases by women as they are highly dependant on their husbands such that they are afraid of them going to jail.
“Women think that if their cases are heard we will send their husbands to jail, but that is not the case. Some people are warned, some pay fines and some are jailed,’’ she said.
In the many cases of domestic violence, men are sent away to State prisons where they cannot be economically active to fend for their families back home. This situation has made women shy away from the courts.
Mrs Loveness Majoni from the city said that it was very understandable why women do not report abuse or withdraw cases.
“It is understandable why women withdraw or don’t report abuse. They lack empowerment and are dependent on the same abusive husbands so sending him away will be a disservice to the woman and the children,’’ she said.
She said women have no choice but to sweep their abuse under the carpet or withdraw cases from the courts as they have no financial power and cannot control anything.
Domestic violence has seen the lives of many women and some men turn extremely miserable. Government enacted the domestic violence bill in to an Act after realising that there is an increase in the number of cases of this abuse.
A number of people have benefited from this Act as they know that they are protected from abusers if they report them. The unfortunate bit is that people are not fully utilising the services of law enforcement agents due to fear.