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Legislators push for harsher GBV penalties

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Harare (New Ziana) – Parliament has implored government to stiffen legal penalties for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) crimes to help curb its commission.

Legislators also implored government on Tuesday to embark on GBV awareness programmes countrywide that would include promoting social and cultural behavioural change as a way of “eradicating this scourge.”

The motion was moved by opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MP Sethulo Ndebele, and seconded by ruling Zanu PF party legislator, Getrude Mutandi.

Ndebele said GBV cases were rising in the country, a situation which required a legislative response in the form of stiffer judicial penalties for offenders.

“Surprisingly, we have continued to witness an increased number of GBV cases instead of a decrease. This is actually worrisome and calls for reflection on this matter,” she said.

“As the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, we call upon the Government to prioritise finalising the alignment of GBV-related laws with the Constitution, especially child marriage laws and review of labour laws ….,” she added.

Mutandi, on the other hand, recommended a root and branch review of the existing anti-GBV frameworks with a view to creating a harsh judicial environment for GBV offenders, and promoting awareness of the crime, and its negative effects on the wider society.

“This may involve consultation with stakeholders, civil society organisations and experts in the fields to ensure that our legal and policy measures align with the current dynamics of gender-based violence. I so humbly submit, trusting that together, we can contribute to the creation of a safer and more equitable Zimbabwe for both men and women,” she said.

Goromonzi West MP, Beata Karimatsenga- Nyamupinga said the Government should ensure that the Criminal Law Codification Reform Act Chapter 9 (23) had detailed sentencing guidelines for GBV perpetrators.

“These would ensure high sentences of sexual offences and at the same time, promote consistency and proportionality,” she said.

Mufakose MP, Susan Matsunga said men, too, were victims of GBV, but most shied away from reporting their cases to police and other agencies for fear of being mocked.

“In conclusion, there are a lot of things that are happening. We have a law that is not very effective, such as the Sexual Harassment Policy. Such a policy should be enacted into an Act of Parliament so that it can protect anyone who comes, even in the future after I am gone,” she said.

Patricia Ndudzo, Matabeleland South legislator, said raising awareness of GBV was key in tackling it, and suggested this be started in schools.

“We need to raise awareness and consciousness among our people even from young age. I think we need to make it compulsory in our school curriculum (so) that gender based violence is understood, taught and that our people are made to report to deal with it whenever it manifests so that as we raise children (who) are quite sensitive and aware of the existence of gender-based violence so that they know that it is something that is not acceptable that we must deal with it whenever it manifests,” she said.

Matabeleland North MP, Elizabeth Masuku, said: “It is time for us to revisit and revise our laws, ensuring that they act as a formidable deterrent against any form of gender-based violence. Equally important is the effective and stringent enforcement of these laws whilst having robust legislation is crucial. Mr. Speaker, therefore, we must allocate the necessary resources to train law enforcement agencies and judicial bodies ensuring they have the capacity and knowledge to handle the G.B.V issues effectively,” he said.

New Ziana

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