Sexual Offences & Domestic Violence Bill
*UPDATE: On May 31, 2018 the House of Senate ratified the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill with amendments. It will now be taken to the King for Royal Assent before it can be passed into law.
As we learn more about the amendments to the SODV Bill and how this will impact our legal system we will share it through our website and social media platforms.
History of the Bill
For almost a decade, civil society and women’s rights organizations have been advocating for legislation that better protects people from domestic and sexual violence in eSwatini. With alarmingly high rates of gender-based violence, inadequate legislation only serves to fuel a culture that puts the safety of women and girls at risk while perpetrators are not held accountable for their actions.
The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Bill was first introduced to Parliament in 2009. It was tabled and debated in both the House of Assembly and the Senate and was eventually passed in October 2011.
Unfortunately, the SODV Bill of 2009 did not receive Royal Assent, which is required as the final step for any bill to be enacted into law, before Parliament was dissolved for the general elections in 2013.
As is customary, the new government had to be re-introduced to the SODV Bill and the procedure of enacting the bill into law started all over again in 2015.
Goals of the SODV Bill
As outlined in the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, its goals areas follows:
- Give effect to certain rights which are enshrined in the Constitution of Swaziland Act of 2005, including the right to equal protection from the law, the right to privacy, the right to protection from inhumane and degrading treatment;
- Strengthen and consolidate certain common law and statutory provisions so as to adequately provide for the successful dealing, in a non-discriminatory manner, with sexual offences and domestic violence and to provide adequate protection to complainants;
- Provide protection to society’s most vulnerable, including women and children;
- End impunity for perpetrators by imposing terms of imprisonment on convicted persons that are proportionate to the crimes committed;
- Give effect to several international legal instruments, including−
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948;The African Charter on Human Rights and People’s Rights, 1986 and the Protocol to that charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, 2003;
- The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979