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Tampane tables anti-domestic violence bill in parliament

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Bereng Mpaki

GENDER, Youth, Sports and Recreation Minister Likeleli Tampane this week tabled the Counter Domestic Violence Bill, 2021 in parliament amid loud cheers from legislators.

The bill is meant to provide for the protection of the rights of victims and prevention of domestic violence and related matters.

A visibly jubilant Ms Tampane said it was a big day for victims of domestic violence.

“I rise to present the Counter Domestic Violence Bill, 2021 for first reading,” Ms Tampane said.

“We should really be proud today because we have been successful in presenting this bill after 20 years of work,” she said pausing for ululating female legislators.

“The purpose of the bill is to provide for protection of rights of victims and prevention of domestic violence and related matters.”

She said the bill defines domestic violence as an act, omission or behaviour which inflicts pain and injury on a person physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally, psychologically and economically.

“The bill provides will apply to people who are in a domestic relationship… and also recognises the discrimination experienced by certain groups of people by virtue of their age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

She said the bill will abolishes some of the existing abusive practices which degrade children and women such as forced child marriages, inheritance of bereaved wives by brothers of the deceased (levirate) and inheritance of husbands by sisters of an infertile or deceased wife (sororate) as well as sex between parents and their children.

“The bill affords victims protection in the form of court orders known as protection orders to prohibit perpetrators from doing certain acts.”

The bill is expected to provide for the implementation of a family court which will handle cases arising out of family squabbles and also hear cases of domestic violence. It also provides for the establishment of restorative justice councils where proceedings will be guided by village chiefs.

Shelters for victims will also be established as well as rehabilitation centres for perpetrators of domestic violence.

The bill proposes stiff penalties for domestic violence and sexual offences.

“A person who coerces another to reproduce commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M20 000 or 15-year imprisonment or both.”

If passed, sexual intercourse between a child and a parent will attract imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years.

“A person who forces a child into marriage commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M10 000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years or both.

“A person who commits physical abuse commits an offence and is liable on conviction to community service or a fine not exceeding M5000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or both.”

The bill also says a person who exposes genital organs commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding M2500 or a one-year imprisonment or both.

“A person who, without the consent of another, comes in direct contact with (the) anus, breasts, penis, buttocks, thighs or vagina of another person or says sexual utterances, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M2500 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both.

“A person who technologically abuses a complainant commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M5000 or to imprisonment for a period of three years or both,” reads part of the bill.

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