gender-based violence

Activist for women’s rights called ‘violent’ because she used local word for vagina on protest placard

A women’s rights activist in Malawi, Beatrice Matweyo, found by the high court to have been wrongly arrested during an anti-gender-based violence protest, has now been slammed for having carried a placard with a slogan including the local word for vagina. Lilongwe’s high court assistant registrar said the use of this word amounted to violence against women, and thus awarded her merely a nominal amount for her claim for punitive damages.

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A new decision by the high court of Malawi should provoke outrage. Brian Sambo, assistant registrar of the high court in Lilongwe, has been assessing the damages that must be paid to prominent women’s rights activist, Beatrice Mateyo. She was arrested during a protest against gender-based violence (GBV) because police thought her placard ‘insulted the modesty of women’ as it included the local word for a vagina.

Court declares husband, charged with murdering his wife, 'unworthy' to bury her

A high court judge in Lesotho has found a husband ‘unworthy’ to bury his wife, because the evidence indicated that he had ‘brutalised her in what was plainly a ‘callous act of domestic violence’. Her birth family had asked that they be allowed to bury her instead, a move strongly opposed by the husband, charged with her murder and out on bail. He claimed that, as the heir, he had the right to bury her. Finding the husband responsible for the woman’s death, Judge Moroke Mokhesi said such behaviour offended public policy the world over.


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What does the 17thC legal writer Johannes Voet have to do with a dispute in modern-day Lesotho? Quite a lot, as it turns out. For it was Voet who wrote about the principles that must apply when deciding who has the ‘right’ to bury a deceased person, and Judge Moroke Mokhesi of the high court in Lesotho quoted that author to explain that a woman’s blood relatives had every right to ask for the right to bury her.

Judges told not to make traditional rituals a condition of bail in sexual assault cases

The supreme court of India has slammed judges who impose ‘wholly inappropriate’ bail conditions in cases of sexual violence, like requiring that the accused visit the woman concerned and give her gifts. The court has also ordered that judges, lawyers and prosecutors must undergo gender sensitivity training to stop language and bail conditions that retraumatise victims.

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It’s hard to believe that a court, considering bail in a sexual harassment case, should stipulate that the accused must visit the woman concerned with ‘a box of sweets’ and request her to complete various traditional rituals with him, that would bind them together as ‘brother and sister’.

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