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Domestic violence bill welcomed with praises

JUBILATION AS MPS WELCOME COUNTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BILL

Maseru, April 06– A pandemonium of ululation and cheering broke out in the National Assembly on Tuesday when Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation Ms. Likeleli Tampane tabled the counter domestic violence bill 2021 before the house.

After presenting the bill, Ms. Tampane remarked that the bill was history in the making over the years in the country and urged unwavering support from women members of parliament who responded with ululation and clapping of hands to welcome the bill.

Deputy Speaker in the National Assembly Ms. Lebohang Ramohlanka stated that the bill has now been read for the first time and duly referred to the relevant portfolio committee.

The statement of objects and reasons shows that the purpose of the bill is to provide for the protection of rights which inflicts pain and injury on a person physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally, psychologically and economically.

It further noted that the bill provides that it will apply to people who are in a domestic relationship going further to outline these group of people and that the bill also recognises the discrimination experienced by certain groups of people by virtue of their age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

”The Bill further, abolishes some of the existing abusive practices which degrade children and women such as forced child marriages, levirate and surrogate marriages, sex between parents and children,” it highlighted.

It further states that the bill affords victims protection in the form of court orders known as protection orders in order to prohibit perpetrators from doing certain acts.

Besides, the bill establishes a family court which will deal with problems arising out of family matters and hear cases of domestic violence and that the bill also provides for the restorative justice councils where proceedings in these instances will be guided by village chiefs.

Again, the bill will provide shelters for victims of domestic violence and will also establish rehabilitation centres for perpetrators of domestic violence.

The bill will enable Minister responsible to develop policies public awareness campaigns in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

It will encourage integration of issues against domestic violence into school curriculum; inform and educate members of the general public on their rights and duties under this act.

The bill when acted by the parliament will allow institutions or organisations which may be approached to provide assistance or information and to also establish legal or other measures available to ensure their safety and include appropriate measures aimed at reaching rural communities.

Where possible, the bill proposes for the provision of awareness on domestic violence in a language understood by all people and review policies on public awareness relevance and effectiveness annually.

It also proposes several penalties on offences committed by perpetrators like physical abuse commits an offence and is liable on conviction to community service or a fine not exceeding M5,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or both.

Offences involving cunnilingus, fellatio or any form of genital stimulation on minors or involuntarily between adults commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M5,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or both.

For emotional, verbal, psychological abuse and stalking commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M3,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both.

LENA

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