Parliament passes domestic violence amendment bill

Martin Endjala

The National Assembly has passed the Combating of Domestic Violence Amendment Bill Act No 4 of 2003 on Tuesday, in order to mitigate gender based violence particularly on women and children in the country.

GBV cases have caused trauma in many families and continues to increase unabated.

With the passing of this bill in the house, parliamentarians have once again demonstrated how urgent they are treating GBV in the country as an emergency.

The bill will now be referred to the President for signing and for gazetting to become law.

Speaking earlier this year on 22 February 2022, Justice Minister Yvonne Dausab reiterated that the disproportionate impact of sexual and gender based violence on women and children, pandemics and other humanitarian crisis impact on the full enjoyment of human rights and forces especially women and children into servile roles.

Dausab said that the constitution of the country does not only guarantee equality of all persons, irrespective of sex before the law but also provides freedom from discrimination.

The amendment bill is tackling the issues of closed magistrate courts at 5pm where victims often find themselves having to wait for the next day.

In this regard, the bill has made provision for the issuing of emergency protection orders in cases where it is impossible for a person who requires protection to make an application at the nearest court.

This will entitle them to file an affidavit at the nearest police station to ensure that the safety of the victim is prioritized.

Other provisions are for victims to provide evidence from behind a screen or another court room, relating to special agreements but are not limited to evidence.

This is done to protect vulnerable witnesses where they are connected to the courtroom by closed circuit Television or via one-way mirror.

In terms of section 158A of the criminal procedure act no 51 of 1977, the minister has revealed that these provisions, the installation of this equipment has already commenced at the Katututra Magistrate Court as the identified GBV court.

Rundu Constituency councillor and MP Paulus Mbangu applauded the house for moving so swiftly on the urgency of the bill, but emphasized that now that it is passed, and after it is fully signed off and gazetted, it must start yielding the desirable fruits in order to realise its enforcement in the fight against GBV and to root out the shameful cowardly behaviours of perpetrators.

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