Here’s my statement on behalf of SWAGAA for the press…it was picked up by the Times of Swaziland this week…
The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse is extremely thankful the house of Senate passed the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill on 20 May, 2013. It has been a lengthy and arduous process. SWAGAA, in collaboration with other NGOs, funding partners and government agencies, has been advocating for a specific law to address sexual offenses and domestic violence since 2004.
Outdated colonial legislation with light sentences, omission of some offences, and little survivor support will now be replaced. The new law means stiffer sentences for perpetrators, which in turn will deter future offenders. The terms of various international conventions the country has signed, regarding of protection of women, will now be honoured.
The new law is not only about increased punitive measures, but provides for peace binding to help mitigate the effects of domestic violence within a family. It also stipulates the creation of a register of sex offenders that can be used by organizations to help screen potential employees working with vulnerable populations.
The passing of the Bill into an Act is a powerful step forward, but Assent from King MiSwati III is also necessary. Even after receiving the King’s Assent, there are many mechanisms that must be put into place before the law becomes operational. We can only hope these requirements are met swiftly so that Swaziland becomes safer, more fair, and equitable for all of its citizens.
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