Domestic violence trails women, girls

HARARE - Pamela Phiri,47, and Dorika Banzi, 53, were lucky to be released from serving 20 and 17-year sentences respectively for murdering their husbands.

Phiri, a teacher by profession had hacked her husband while Banzi slit the throat of her live-in lover with a fish paring knife.

The two women share a similar story behind their incarceration —  they were both victims of domestic violence.

Pushed beyond reason and in a desperate measure to defend themselves they retaliated and ended up in prison for murder.

Although we are past the 16 Days of activism against Gender- Based violence (GBV), there are growing calls for the period to be extended because daily women like Banzi and Phiri still suffer from domestic violence.

Although there are a number of legal provisions to protect women from GBV, they are not being implemented, according to Harare lawyer Tariro Tandi.

“The Customary Law Marriage Act does not even stipulate a legal age of marriage, so that needs to be aligned. The Domestic Violence Act is very positive as it addresses issues of GBV but unfortunately there is a problem with implementation.

“Women may know it is there but when they go to seek help they are faced with challenges. It may start at the police station where instead of getting protection through the Act they end up just getting counselling.”

“The Domestic Violence Act provides for the protection order which enables a victim to be protected from any abuse for five years. The Act also has provisions of imprisonment for 10 years and in the same Act there is a clause against child marriage with perpetrators liable for imprisonment for 10 years as well.

“This piece of legislation, however, is not being utilised fully and it shows that we do have the laws but implementation is yet to be achieved,” Tandi said.

Experts say in order to tackle GBV there is need to focus on rape and sexual assault, specifically among girls who are being raped on their way to school and or at school.

Tandi, who has a passion on women and girls’ rights said harassment at colleges is also high with the term “a thigh for a mark” common as girls are forced to provide sexual favours to lecturers in exchange for high marks.

“In terms of rape, the problem is around acquittals. Women are losing confidence in reporting rape cases because nothing is being done.

“We need to look at the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act which governs issues of rape and also the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act so that women know how to give evidence.

“It also gives prosecutors the power to do due diligence to rape cases so that perpetrators are punished,” she said.

According to Musasa Project’s gender and peace building programme officer Nyasha Mazango, from January to August this year they have counselled 12 000 women and girls.

“Girls aged between 10 and 15 years are most affected by rape. Sexual violation issues that we received included people not disclosing their HIV status to their partners, partners playing the blame game and unmarried partners deliberately infecting one another so as to fix each other,” she said.

Tag a Life International (TaLI) director Nyaradzo Mashayamombe said violence is mostly perpetrated against women and girls with little or no educational background.

“We have many girls who are out of school. The Primary and Secondary Education ministry says they have a policy that protects girls to remain in school but that is only beneficial to those already in the system. They should open their doors to every child regardless of their economic background,” she said.

“Education should be availed to every woman. However, abuse is also exacerbated by abuse of office, bad governance and corruption in our system. We still talk of the missing $15 billion and if that was available it would go towards sustaining the industries and providing education which reduce poverty.”

In an admission of government’s failure to protect the girl-child, Gender minister Nyasha Chikwinya said 4 500 children have dropped out of school so far in 2016, with 264 boys and 3 955 girls.

Chikwinya said girls that normally drop out of school due to child marriage are usually not allowed to complete their education, thus making them easy targets for abuse.

“This poses a serious developmental challenge with complex implications on maternal mortality especially for girls who experience obstetric fistula, morbidity, infant mortality, inter generational poverty and divorces,” she said.

Comments (1)

Does it make sense for a housewife who depend on his husband to have him sentenced for 10 years? some of the things these men implement are just stupid....are they promoting and protecting marriages?will those who are not in marriages envy those who are in marriages????

Tafirenyika - 11 December 2016

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.