Swaziland: Joint call to enact laws to fight gender violence

Swaziland: Joint call to enact laws to fight gender violence

Date: November 28, 2014
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Mbabane, 28 November: In support of the enactment of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, the Coordinating Assembly of Non-governmental Organisations launched the Sixteen Days of Activism Campaign at Msunduza Sports ground in Mbabane on Tuesday.

“Nine out of ten women in communities have been abused. They have been harassed, beaten, raped, mutilated or murdered, even in their own homes. ” These were remarks made by Deputy Speaker in the House of Assembly and Mbabane East Member of Parliament (MP), Esther Dlamini, speaking at the launch. Dlamini, the sole female MP representing the community in Parliament, explained that the Bill was piloted in 2013 but never finalised. She assured the participants that she is going to push for the enactment of the Bill in parliament.

Makhosazana Mkhonta representing the Gender Consortium provided statistics conducted by the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAAGA)-an NGO working to combat gender violence. The statistics have shown a steady rise in cases of violence against women during the past decade, partly due to better reporting of such crimes. She said cases that were reported this year include 650 emotional abuse cases; 161 physical violence reports; 133 economic violence cases; 93 cases of sexual violence; and 63 reports of child neglect. Mkhonta highlighted that a majority of these cases happen at home and the perpetrators are usually known and trusted by the victims, leaving them vulnerable to more abuse.

Umsimisi Community Project drama group performed a play about gender violence and also called for equal opportunities to education- “Investing on a girl child is like planting on a fertile ground.” The performance ended with a strong plea that government finalise the Bill as a matter of urgency.

Other diplomats who attended the launch and joined the call for the adoption of the Bill, included the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Swaziland, Nicola Bellomo as well as the United States of America Ambassador, Makila James. Ambassador Bellomo pleaded that “Swaziland enact into law the Bill on Domestic Violence without further delay and ensure that it is comprehensive, covering all forms of violence against women.”

Clement Mabuza, the Deputy Prime Minister’s representative commended the government for creating child friendly courts in the magistrate courts and for better implementation of the Children Protection and Welfare Act 2102. He went on to say that gender equality is an important sustainable development goal and the nation should break the silence and speak out against abuse.

This year’s Sixteen Days Campaign launch was also attended by Hhohho Regional Administrator-
Prince Tjekedi; Mbabane Mayor Jonita Jones; and Gender Links Board Member Bennedict Bennett. The Population Services International (PSI) also provided free testing and counselling during the launch.

This article is part of the Gender Links News Service Sixteen Days of Activism special series, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.





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