Lesotho: Domestic Violence Bill, hope to ending GBV

Lesotho: Domestic Violence Bill, hope to ending GBV

Date: May 16, 2018
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Maseru, 14 May: Lesotho is developing a Domestic Violence Bill 2018 in an endeavour to counter the rampant acts of Gender Based Violence (GBV) that have rocked the country. This comes after the previous bill was not enacted into law for many years. This bill has been discussed with relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Gender, representatives of police from the Child and Gender protection Unit (CGPU) and Non-Governmental Organisations including Gender Links.

Although the currently proposed Domestic Violence Bill 2018, has not yet been tabled in parliament, the pressure is mounting to ensure that it is tabled and implemented before the end of the year. If all goes well, the bill will be implemented at an opportune time, as Lesotho is in trouble with the high rates of GBV prevalent in the country.

Although Lesotho has made some efforts to attain gender equity and equality, however there are still glaring challenges facing the country.[1]  The notable gaps in Lesotho’s national legislation pertain to discriminatory traditional and cultural laws and practices of early child marriages, inheritance and succession to chieftainship. The proposed domestic violence bill will be another step to close the existing gap in the legislation as it will address some traditional and cultural laws that continue to promote the minority status of women and increase their vulnerability to GBV.

The proposed bill aims to provide for protection, prevention and criminalisation of domestic violence as well as advocacy for rights of victims of domestic violence and related matters. It incorporates a multidisciplinary approach to addressing violence against women such as provision of collaboration between the police, social services and health providers. The proposed domestic violence bill goes beyond the limited approach of criminalising violence against women and takes into account a range of areas of the law, including civil, criminal, administrative and constitutional law. The bill also addresses the provision on sensitizing, prevention and detection and the rights of survivors of domestic violence; creates specific institutional mechanisms to address domestic violence; introduces regulations under law and establishes judicial protection for survivors.

The absence of domestic violence legislation has created a major gap in addressing GBV in Lesotho. Not a single week passes without the police reports showing cases of domestic violence. These reports are an indication that the Bill and its subsequent implementation are long overdue in Lesotho.

The 2013 Gender Links Violence against Women (VAW) baseline study in Lesotho revealed that 86 percent of women in Lesotho have experienced some form of violence at least once in their lifetime. According to the research only 5% of women who reported cases of abuse had the police open a docket for them.

Lesotho is signatory to and has ratified the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development adopted by SADC Heads of State in August 2016 where the member states have made a commitment to eliminate GBV but the levels of GBV in Lesotho are nowhere close to eradication. The protocol advocates for the enactment and enforcement of legislation prohibiting all forms of GBV.

GL continues to advocate for the eradication of GBV in SADC country. Recently during the Lesotho Gender Justice and Local Government Summit many councils pointed out that although they were trying very hard to educate people on GBV there were still high incidences of domestic violence occurring in their councils. This might have been caused by lack of legislation to deal with issues of domestic violence.

It is for this reason that many international organisationS have taken action to implement programmes that address the high rates of GBV in the country. For example, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Lesotho has embarked in a three year multi stakeholder initiative on the Prevention of Violence against women and Girls. The programme will be supporting the formation of the multi-stakeholder initiatives that will leverage financial and technical contributions from government, civil society organisations, private sector companies, the media and academia. The initiatives will serve jointly to implement flagship projects. The collaborative mode of implementation will enhance coordination and mutual understanding amongst stakeholders.

The above initiative is providing a platform for ensuring that the reduction of GBV levels in this country should be the responsibility of all sectors. The tabling of the proposed bill in parliament and the execution will go a long way in assisting Lesotho to overcome the problem of GBV and to ensure that the efforts such as the one above become a success. It is for this reason that I believe the discussion and contributions of relevant stakeholders towards the development of the proposed Domestic Violence Bill 2018 is a beacon of hope for GBV victims and their families and friends.

Manteboheleng Mabetha is the Gender Links Lesotho country manager. This article is part of the GL News and Blogs Service

[1] UNDP Lesotho: Bridging the gap in Lesotho.

6 thoughts on “Lesotho: Domestic Violence Bill, hope to ending GBV”

kelello says:

Good work GL

Precious says:

Good work indeed, I hope it works to eradicate gender-based violence

Mosito says:

Domestic Biolence Act exits in SA, but it has been critisised in many aspects, i hope e do not as qe alays do copy and paste the South African Act. Fortunately Outh Africa enacted the Harassment Act which supplemented the Domestic Act and addressed its defficiencies. If e follo SA then we will also habe to enact Harassment Act…so be careful

Sophia Tlali says:

I think they have all forgotten about this bill since the judiciary has been having conflicts. The only person who seems to have her agenda moving is the First Lady. Perhaps a good strategy would be to table GBV in front of her or make it her baby such as orphans or the elderly. Think about it. She would be a very passionate advocate.

Khahliso Lehloma says:

I’m abused when requesting to separate with a guy I had an affair with. He beats me and emotionally scare me

Mpho Mahula says:

I went through the draft and one question I have is: is this GBVF bill or bill to end violence against woman in Lesotho…..?

I failed to get the answer because no one seems to be able to know about the contents of the bill, Gender Based Violence and Femicide is not a social or woman’s rights issues but human rights issues and therefore has to be treated as violation of Human Rights either by Male or Female…..

If this bill is enacted, it is not going to end GBVF in Lesotho but fuel this pandemic more.

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