Swaziland
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FAMILY SECRETS KILLING EMASWATI

Sir,
 
Domestic violence is a huge problem affecting many communities in Eswatini; reports of intimate partner violence and even murder frequent our national newspapers more often than we would like. No one should be proud of this. Unfortunately many emaSwati have been socialised to keep domestic abuse secret, because of a belief that these are family secrets and are not for public consumption. This culture of silencing abuse is not right and often leads to continued abuse, and even the deaths of many individuals in the hands of those they loved.
I would like to highlight that protection orders are an important tool that people who have been abused by their intimate partners can use to get firm restrictions of contact and reach from their abuser, using the justice system. In order for an individual to obtain a restraining order, there must be proof that they were abused.

A protection order can protect anyone who is seen to be under threat by the court. For individuals who are concerned about the safety or well-being of their loved ones the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act allows them to identify and name relatives who may be in danger. An application for a restraining order may be made by the aggrieved person, an authorised person or a police officer.  The Act is concerned about human rights and is here to protect against the violations of human rights. These efforts are seen in statements such as clause 83 (3) where the law highlights that more than one individual may be protected, if an application for a protection order names more than one person.

Violence

In some cases of domestic violence there is more than one victim and sometimes a victim can request the protection of others who lived with the abuser, because they realise how much of a threat he/she is to others. Victims of domestic abuse are often left traumatised and afraid of their abusers. Often victims are fearful when they learn that their abuser has been released from prison; what if they come back and start abusing me again? What if he/she decides to stay in the same area? These are valid fears and thankfully the Act provides protection to victims of domestic abuse through protection orders as part of a bail condition or pre-trail, where the respondent is prohibited from; committing any act of domestic violence, entering or attempting to enter the residence or premises, approaching within a stated distance of the premises, contacting or attempting to contact or asking someone else to contact the aggrieved person or named person, locating or attempting to locate or ask someone else to locate the aggrieved person or named person and also committing any other act as specified in the protection order.  

Protection orders aim at preventing the reoccurrence of domestic violence or sexual harassment by stating what conduct the alleged offender must refrain from doing. As long as he/she complies with the protection order, the complainant will be safe. If anyone disobeys or contravenes any stipulation of the protection order, it must be reported to the police immediately so that the respondent can be arrested. These are some of the things that people need to know to protect themselves from abusers instead of being secretive.