Zimbabwean Domestic Violence Bill to Be Tabled in Parliament

Date: 14 June 2006

A much-anticipated Domestic Violence Bill has been approved by Zimbabwe's cabinet, and will now be tabled for debate in parliament when their next session opens in August 2006. Caroline Matizha, Acting Director of the Department of Gender in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, at a meeting convened by UNIFEM, made the announcement and congratulated civil society for its efforts to lobby for the bill's passage. Important provisions contained in the bill include revised definitions of domestic violence to also include emotional, verbal and psychological abuse, such as repeated insults likely to cause mental injury, and "economic" abuse, that is, the misuse of financial assets to the detriment of the partner and other members of the family. The bill also calls for the setting up of a prevention committee made up of government, NGO, church and traditional leaders.

Emilia Muchawa, Director, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA), described a new project to collect data on sentencing patterns of domestic violence cases in the country, which would boost efforts not only to defend the passage of the bill, but also to ensure that once passed, legislation would be implemented. "This idea was mooted by the Minister of Justice, and the data should be ready before the next session of parliament," she said.

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