By ‘Muso Nkhasi
The government introduced the Counter Domestic Violence Act 2022 to protect the rights of victims of all forms of abuse, however it has come to our attention that most villagers in rural areas are still in the dark regarding this Act.
Citizens particularly orphans and widows experience different forms of abuse, from family members, the communities they live in and even their own area chiefs, who find themselves entangled in such affairs. Lack of knowledge of the law and one’s rights results in helplessness, silence and forgone power by the victims.
The act protects victims by granting them a protection order against the perpetrators and the protection order is enforceable for five years or until revoked or varied by the court.
The anonymous orphan was left with nothing after the parent’s death. All the furniture in the house was taken, she was denied access to the parent’s fields. The elder family members decided to repossess the fields owned by their parents for their own personal gain.
“We reported the matter but in vain as they were friends with our late chief. I still believe that the late chief was involved in selling that furniture.
We were never consulted about anything, and were not part of this malicious act of injustice. After the ordeal we did not even know where to go to seek help in dealing with such a matter. People lack education, and for this reason we urge our law makers and enforcers to educate the public on matters which affect the public as a whole or will eventually do, because a death of a parent is bound to hit each and every one of us one way or the other,” she explained.
In an interview with a shuttered widow *‘Mathato (not her real name), she took us through a horrifying experience she underwent after she lost her husband. Mathato was forced into a relationship with the uncle, who would sexually assault her, and a child was conceiving out of that act of rape.
She widow was pleased with the new Act which will protect the wellbeing and rights of widows. “No woman will ever have to go through what I went through,” she proclaimed. She found herself in a position where she could not even lay charges against her perpetrator because not long after, the rapist died. She has to live with the anger, resentment and left with no choice but to accept that she will never get her justice.
“When my son often asks how is it possible that he was born after the burial of his father, I get so heartbroken and do not know what to tell him. Because if I tell him the truth it will just break him, and I do not want to expose with to such sigma. The truth will bring him more damage than good,” she sadly explained.
The Act protects rights of all citizens, including domestic violence, children who are victims of all forms of abuse and many more. In terms of the Act, domestic relations vary from married couples, co-habiting couples, intimate couples to family members.