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December 18, 2017

Failure to report domestic violence makes you an accomplice

The home is supposed to be the place where we are supposed to relax, eat, sleep, grow and derive happiness from. It’s the place where the family lives. This is where we nurture and develop our futures. The home is where we get the greatest love from. Physically and psychologically, we grow to become who we are because of the family.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. Some members of the family have suffered a lot in the hands of the loved ones. Many crimes have been committed in the family by those we love most. Many of the cases of sexual and gender-based violence have been swept under the carpet.

The victims of these repeated attacks live in fear and cannot neither excel nor become who they are supposed to be in the family. Many spouses are suffering from extreme attacks that amount to marital rape with no recourse. Majority cannot report to the police station nearby since the police tell them in clear terms that they don’t deal with domestic affairs.

Incest has also become very rampant. There are many cases of older family members sexually abusing their younger relatives.

The old and helpless family members have also been exposed to neglect and abuse.

The little beautiful girls are looked at from an economic perspective. Dowry is in the minds of many greedy parents who want payment from the day their daughter can walk. It is for this reason that early child marriage has gained international notoriety and the UN is condemning it. Let the girl go to school.

Some of the girls are pulled out of class so as to undergo the cut to convert them into quick wives without giving them an opportunity to say no. This is ‘blessed’ by the parents who betray the poor girls’ trust. The girls right to health is therefore casually infringed upon.

The victims of all the known and unknown domestic violence cases are left in a state of fear and confusion. Many times, the victims end up with no compensation. They live without dignity and in pain. This is unacceptable.

It is with this in mind that a new act has come into force. Be warned. Remember you have a duty to avoid violence. You owe the victims a duty to protect them irrespective of who you are in or to the family.

Failure to report domestic violence converts you into an accomplice. We must not be firefighters of domestic violence only, we must at all times prevent the vice from taking place. Prevention is better than cure. The Protection Against Domestic Violence Act (2015) provides for the protection and relief of victims of the vice. The main objective of the act is the protection of spouse, children and dependent people.

The act defines as violence abuse that includes female genital mutilation, child marriage, forced marriage, forced wife inheritance, interference from in-laws, sexual violence within marriage, virginity testing and widow cleansing.

Violence under this act also includes damage to property, defilement, economic abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, harassment, incest, intimidation, physical abuse, stalking, verbal abuse or any other conduct against a person that harms or may cause imminent harm to the safety, health, or the well-being of the person.

In the case of children, the act states that a person psychologically abuses a child if that person causes the child to see or hear the abuse of a person with whom the child has a domestic relationship.

This is a great legislation that has come to compliment the Penal Code, the Children’s Act, Marriage Act and many others. Let us all be part of the implementation journey as we make the family a happy place.

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