“If a woman is not safe in her home, she is not safe anywhere” – Workshop Delegate
In conjunction with the International Commission of Jurists and Women in Law Southern Africa – Swaziland (WLSA), SWAGAA hosted a workshop with the aim of ‘Enhancing Redress and Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Swaziland’ on February 28, 2018.
This was the first time that we brought together NGOs, government, international agencies, business and legal practitioners to share in the challenges they encounter when trying to address Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in their respective fields. Focusing specifically on how we can change the culture of impunity that persists in Swaziland when accessing the justice system, the following questions were asked by the facilitator:
- Why are there low levels of sentences imposed?
- Does the country need greater sentencing guidelines for cases of SGBV?
- What are the challenges faced by the Courts in hearing cases of SGBV?
- What are the systemic issues?
- Are domestic violence cases prioritized within the justice system?
- Should Swazi culture be codified?
The workshop identified the following areas that need to be addressed in order to create a justice system that more adequately meets the needs of survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. These include:
- Gaps in legislation to effectively convict and sentence perpetrators, requiring the immediate approval of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill.
- The need for capacity building within service delivery organizations to prepare survivors as they go through the legal system and inform them of the accused’s rights to legal protection and counsel.
- The need to develop rehabilitation services not only for perpetrators but for survivors, as well, so they can heal in a meaningful way. This includes safe housing for people leaving violent situations, psychosocial services and education and employment opportunities.
- The need to ensure the Courts are properly resourced in Swaziland.
- The session concluded by outlining opportunities for engagement in 2018 with the United Nations to address SGBV.
Through this workshop, we were able to create critical connections between these diverse sectors of society so we can work together to achieve our collective objectives. It was incredibly eye-opening to understand how our challenges are often interconnected with one another. Hopefully, by working together we can start making significant changes to the justice system in Swaziland so that it is more independent, accountable, reliable and objective.