Column

Perpetrators of Domestic Violence should face stiff penalties

 

By Linda Masarira

Cases of domestic violence continue to increase in Zimbabwe and it is very worrisome as women continue to lose their lives in these cases. Just last week pictures went viral on social media of a man who shot dead his wife and brother in law over a marriage dispute. Its rather unfortunate that our society seems to have normalized the abnormal by keeping silent on matters of domestic violence which continue to affect livelihoods on a daily basis.

We have read time and again of high profile leaders being perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and being let off the hook.
Leaders should lead by example and desist from any form of violence whether its domestic, political or social. We need leaders who lead by example and set an example that domestic violence is wrong and totally unacceptable.

The courts in Zimbabwe should start being serious about issues of Gender Based Violence. Women are not objects that should be panel beaten time and again. As long as there is no sincerity by our courts to give stiff penalties to GBV perpetrators, we will continue losing lives and nurturing a culture of violence in our communities.

Women continue to bear the brunt of domestic violence. Zimbabwe endorsed major international conventions and instruments by making them part of the laws of the land. The country instituted fundamental policies and legal provisions which in theory, offer women protection of their rights in society yet practically women continue to suffer and lose lives to their spouses.

The Anti-domestic Violence Council should be more visible that is if it still exists. Cases of violence within households continue to rise despite the enactment of the domestic violence law which has not been enforced to curb the vice.

The Domestic Violence Act conceptualised domestic violence as physical abuse, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse, economic abuse, malicious damage to property, the list is endless.

As a woman who fights against any form of gender based violence, I stand in solidarity with all women who have been subjected to gender based violence and encourage them to report any assult, rape or harassment. The emotional burden of GBV on women is hard to carry and the only way to end the violence is by speaking out and reporting these cases.

Cases of apparent leniency in the sentencing of male offenders convicted of violence often attract media attention suggesting that this type of violence is not being taken seriously by the Zimbabwe criminal justice agencies. It is time women value their bodies and refuse to be punching bags.

An injury to one woman is an injury to all women. Women’s organizations and pressure groups should take the lead in advocating for peaceful communities. Polarization should not limit nor silence our voices. United we stand as women and divided we fall into oblivion. Be your sisters keeper.

In conclusion, the police should ensure that they restart robust awareness campaigns countrywide against domestic violence. LEAD urges people to desist from domestic violence and not to solve disputes through violent means.

Peace starts with you and me!

Linda Tsungirirai Masarira
LEAD President

Tendai Guvamombe