|Saturday, 16 June 2012 22:03|
Domestic Violence Act not benefiting victims?The law is indeed a horse and some have described it as a double-edged sword. Women in Zimbabwe celebrated the passing into law of the Domestic Violence Act in 2007 but the piece of legislation appears to be of little use or benefit to them. Never mind what the counter argument might be, that piece of legislation is double-edged and leaves the woman, who will have been brutalised, holding the shorter end of the stick.
The courts of law in an attempt to deter perpetrators of domestic violence pass harsh sentences which include custodial ones leaving the woman without a husband, the home without a breadwinner, the children being withdrawn from school because the father is not there to pay the fees and the children cursing the mother for getting the only person they will call father in jail. While all this is happening the man’s whole clan will abandon her and some angry relatives will even dismiss their brother’s children as “marital handouts’’ and the woman a witch.
The woman also gets abandoned by literally everybody including her relatives who will have “squandered’’ lobola.
Elsewhere in this issue we carry a disturbing story highlighting that despite the fact that Zimbabwe has done a lot to address the problem of discrimination and marginalisation of women more still needs to be done.
According to statistics revealed by the Attorney-General’s office one in 10 cases of domestic violence is prosecuted, while the remainder are withdrawn by the victims.
“One in 10 cases is prosecuted for domestic violence and these are disturbing facts,’’ said a representative from the AG’s office.
What seems clear is the fact that the State punishes the abuser harshly and the story ends there. The husband will be eating cabbages in jail, staying in State accommodation in jail while the landlord, who is also a man, will throw the poor family out for unpaid rentals. As far as the landlord is concerned the woman is a bad example and should be ostracised.
According to experts, there is a high rate of withdrawal of cases by women as they are highly dependent 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, others 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.
Government enacted the Domestic Violence Bill into an act after realising that there is an increase in the number of cases of abuse. Possibly it is critical that some social safety mechanism is put in place to cater for the family of an abusive husband. Otherwise the woman will continue being violated without any recourse.
Women also need to be empowered so that they can take care of themselves in the event of such eventualities.
The cycle of violence has been perpetuated by such occurrences; women are still being violated in the homes they live in as they fear laws put in place will work against them instead of for them.