Tracy Mutowekuziva Your Rights & the Law
There are many words that describe what violence is but generally it is “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.
What does violence include?
Violent acts can be:
What kind of violence are girls and women subjected to?
Women and girls are subjected to the following forms of violence;
Psychological & Economic violence
Gender Based Violence/Violence against women
What does the law say about Domestic Violence?
The Domestic Violence Act defines violence to include(a) physical abuse; (b) sexual abuse; (c) emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; ` (d) economic abuse; (e) intimidation; (f) harassment; (g) stalking; (h) malicious damage to property and it also includes abuse derived from the following cultural or customary rites or practices that discriminate against or degrade women— (i) forced virginity testing; or (ii) female genital mutilation; or (iii) pledging of women or girls for purposes of appeasing spirits; or (iv) forced marriage; or (v) child marriage; or (vi) forced wife inheritance
Who is covered in the Act?
A current, former wife or husband
All children whether born in or out of wedlock, adopted or step children
People living with the perpetrator of the violence e.g. relatives or domestic workers
A girlfriend or boyfriend whether current or former
How does Act protect victims?
It provides for stiffer sentences in criminal matters
By placing special duties on the police to assist victims and proving for special domestic violence sections at police stations
The police should be specially trained and should advise the victim of his or her rights under the Act
By providing for a protection order
A court order that directs the perpetrator to stop committing violence
How does one get the
The clerk of court will assist victim by advising of available relief and serving interim protection order .One may get interim protection order. An interim protection is granted as a matter of urgency before the actual or the final order is granted. If granted a protection order may remain in force for up to 5 years in case of breach, the act is an offence under both the criminal law and the Act the sentence will be stiffer.
What is a Protection Order?
A court order that directs the perpetrator to stop committing violence .Perpetrator may be issued with a warrant of arrest .May be applied for by the victim, a representative by the victim’s consent or without consent (however court consent is required) or minor’s representative.
What does the order contain?
According to the Act , it prohibits the respondent also called the accused or the perpetrator from committing or enlisting the help of another person to commit any act of domestic violence; (b) direct the respondent to stay away from any premises or place where the complainant resides, or any part of such premises or place; (c) prohibit the respondent from entering or approaching any premises or place where or at which the complainant works, attends or frequents, or any part of such premises or place; (d) direct the respondent to pay emergency monetary relief in respect of the complainant’s needs and those of any child or dependant of the respondent, including household necessities, medical expenses, school fees and mortgage bond or rent payments; (e) award the temporary custody of any child or dependant of the respondent to any person or institution and regulate rights of access by the respondent to such child or dependant; (f) direct the respondent to afford the complainant or any child or dependant of the complainant access to their place of residence and use of the facilities associated therewith; (g) direct the respondent to pay adequate compensation in the prescribed manner for any personal or physical injury, pain, trauma or loss suffered by the complainant; (h) direct that the complainant or the respondent or both undergo counselling by a counsellor with the respondent paying all the necessary expenses; (i) generally, direct the respondent to do or omit to do any act or thing which the court considers necessary or desirable for the well-being of the complainant or any child or dependant of the complainant
Which human rights are violated by domestic violence?
Right to life
Right to liberty
Right to dignity that means right not to be subjected to inhuman & degrading treatment
Right to security of the person
Right to health
Freedom from torture cruel and unusual punishment
Which Constitutional Provisions address domestic violence?
This vice called domestic violence will only stop if everyone gets involved. We need to raise our children differently and to report instantly. One can also disseminate information on the Act and to raise awareness.
The writer, Tracy Mutowekuziva is a women rights lawyer.