Women in Nkayi district have demanded inclusion as assessors in traditional courts presided over by village heads, head persons and chiefs, to increase access to justice for women.
BY SILAS NKALA
Section 17 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that the State must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men. However, most traditional courts were still male-dominated.
Women who attended a public meeting organised by the Habakkuk Trust in Nkayi ward 22 last week expressed concern over the absence of women as adjudicators in traditional courts.
They said dispute-resolution was a preserve of men, with their voices stifled, a practice which is against democratic principles as enshrined in the Constitution.
“Some women are afraid to speak out in these courts to defend themselves. There are some things that women cannot reveal to men hence some would withhold useful information that would have resulted in a fair judgment,” Sithokozile Moyo said.
“It is, therefore, important for women to be included as assessors in traditional courts to increase access to justice for women.”
However, village heads who were present defended the status quo, arguing that traditional courts were impartial and the absence of women did not make judgments biased towards men.
Habakkuk Trust encouraged local leaders to include women and young people in decision-making processes and structures.