LAW, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa says government is working to reform domestic violence laws so they remain relevant to the needs of Basotho.
Mr Letsosa made the remarks on Friday during a workshop held at Lehakoe Club in which stakeholders gave feedback on the findings of the Domestic Violence Research Project. The project was undertaken by the Lesotho Law Reform Commission between October 2010 and October 2015 to examine the extent of the prevalence of domestic violence in Lesotho.
It was also meant to review all current national laws and policies addressing issues of gender-based violence. The research was carried out in the districts of Maseru, Quthing and Mokhotlong with the objective of exploring and suggesting recommendations for the enactment of specific legislation addressing issues of domestic violence.
Among the findings of the report was that there was low reporting of domestic violence cases because of a lack of strong protective mechanisms for victims and non-existence of a domestic violence law.
As a result, the report noted, it was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the problem in the country.
It also found that there were few service providers from both government and civil society working on issues of domestic violence, adding that most of the services provided did not adequately and holistically address the needs and concerns of victims such as protection and appropriate reporting strategies.
Mr Letsosa said the laws dealing with domestic violence needed to be reviewed to remain relevant and responsive to modern needs.
“It is our legal and moral duty to remain vigilant and ready at all times to tailor-make, modernise and reform our legal infrastructure so that is remains relevant to our lives,” he said.
“Above all, we have to reform our laws as part of our commitment to democracy and respect for human rights. Domestic violence is a very delicate area of the law and it is wise to approach it with caution.
“We should appreciate the suffering and trauma which the victims of domestic violence go through. Then we must act in their favour.”
The minister said the Gender ministry had developed a Gender and Development Policy to steer the reform process.
“The policy stipulates that gender-based violence (GBV) is a national concern,” said Mr Letsosa.
“GBV manifests itself in physical, psychological, verbal and sexual forms. It takes place both in the private and public spheres, among children, youths, adults and the elderly.”
He said the policy also stipulates the strategies government developed to nip all forms of GBV in the bud.
“Such strategies include strengthening institutional mechanisms to enable reporting of GBV in a safe and non-intimidating environment as well as strengthening institutional mechanisms for the effective enforcement of laws relating to gender-based violence,” Mr Letsosa said.
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