Lesotho celebrates international women’s day on a high note

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By Itumeleng Koleile

Lesotho celebrates International Women’s Day on a high note as the National Assembly last week passed the Counter Domestic Violence Bill 2021, which is aimed at protecting the rights of victims and preventing domestic violence.

The bill, after being passed by the national assembly shall be passed to the Senate and later referred to the King for Royal Ascent and it shall be published as a law.

The Bill is according to the minister of gender and youth, sports, and recreation, Likeleli Tampane meant to respond to the nature of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases.

Tampane had told the august house that her ministry is presented with numerous reports of intimate partner violence that mostly adversely affect women in Lesotho today.

She also said the Bill is intended to provide for the protection of victims’ rights, prevention of domestic violence and seeks to recognize the discrimination experienced by certain groups of people: age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

“It further seeks to abolish some existing abusive practices which degrade children and women such as forced child marriages, levirate and sororate marriages, and sex between parents and children,” the briefing reads.

Moreover, the Bill empowers the courts to give orders that are aimed at deterring crimes against intimate partner violence victims, especially women and children.

The Bill further provides protection of victims in order to prohibit perpetrators from committing certain offenses.

The Bill also establishes a Family Court and Restorative Justice Councils to deal effectively with issues related to domestic violence.

“Once the Bill is implemented people will be encouraged to report cases of domestic violence and the law will not prejudice anyone but all persons will benefit in the domestic sphere,” said Tampane in the state of objects and purpose of the Bill submitted to parliament.

Not only does the Bill intend to establish a family court but also, intends to establish shelters for victims of domestic violence as well as rehabilitation centers for the perpetrators.

Once enacted, the Bill is intended to impose penalties on the perpetrators which include conviction to community service, a fine not exceeding M 5000, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months, and these will be applicable to a person who commits physical abuse.

Physical abuse with the intention to serious bodily harm will be liable to a fine not exceeding M 10 000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years while murder will be liable on conviction to a life sentence.