…USA Am­bas­sador calls for pass­ing of Sex­ual Of­fences, Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Bill

Observer on Saturday - - News -

US Am­bas­sador Lisa Peter­son has urged the newly formed TUCOSWA Women Com­mit­tee to ad­vo­cate for the en­act­ment of the Sex­ual Of­fences and Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Bill (SODV) which she said has lan­guished in Par­lia­ment for al­most a decade.

Peter­son said this dur­ing her clos­ing re­marks at the TUCOSWA Women Con­fer­ence held at Car­i­tas Cen­tre yes­ter­day. The Am­bas­sador said the Sex­ual Of­fences and Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Bill of­ten re­ferred to as the SODV Bill has lan­guished in the halls of Par­lia­ment for nearly a decade.

Peter­son said some peo­ple see the on­go­ing de­bate around the SODV Bill as a mat­ter for women’s groups and so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions, but it is about much more than that. Peter­son said in fact, the SODV Bill is sweep­ing in its reach as it af­fects men, women and chil­dren.

She said it touches on so­cial, fam­ily, and eco­nomic is­sues. Peter­son added that it speaks to equal­ity, to jus­tice, and to over­reach­ing hu­man rights.

The Am­bas­sador said the SODV Bill is a crit­i­cal piece of leg­is­la­tion that must be en­acted in or­der to build a more inclusive Swazi­land. Peter­son in­formed the throngs of women who had gath­ered at Car­i­tas Cen­tre that a strong house can­not be built without a strong and bal­anced foun­da­tion. She said sim­i­larly, a strong econ­omy can­not be built solely on the work of men. Peter­son said un­til Swazi­land recog­nises that its daugh­ters and moth­ers de­serve the same pro­tec­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties as its sons and fa­thers, the coun­try will con­tinue to limit its own po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Speak­ing about the read­mis­sion of Swazi­land into AGOA Peter­son said the re­in­state­ment of AGOA ben­e­fits was born from the com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion of the work­ers, man­agers and lead­ers of or­gan­i­sa­tions.

She said AGOA did not re­turn by ac­ci­dent but it re­turned be­cause of tar­geted and tire­less ad­vo­cacy by in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Peter­son fur­ther pointed out that with the re­turn of AGOA and pos­si­ble growth in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, ev­ery­one needs to be vig­i­lant about en­sur­ing that the new jobs be­ing cre­ated come with fair labour con­di­tions and safe work places. Peter­son shared the story of three women in Amer­i­can his­tory who played a huge role in the recog­ni­tion of women’s right in Amer­ica and urged women of TUCOSWA that they do not only have a right but they also have a duty as lead­ers to fight for poli­cies that are im­por­tant to their or­gan­i­sa­tions’ mem­bers. Peter­son fur­ther sub­mit­ted to TUCOSWA that the SODV Bill is a crit­i­cal is­sue that de­serves se­ri­ous at­ten­tion. “all of you would be wel­come al­lies in the ef­fort to pass the SODV Bill. Your voices could be the last bit of pres­sure that is needed to bring the law into ef­fect and usher in a brighter fu­ture for Swazi­land” Peter­son urged the TUCOSWA Women Com­mit­tee. Peter­son fur­ther pleaded with the com­mit­tee to con­tinue ad­vo­cat­ing for a fu­ture where all Swazi­land’s women are safe in their work­place, on the street, and in their homes.

LEAD­ERS: TUCOSWA Women's Com­mit­tee lead­ers Vice Chair­per­son Baw­inile Ndlovu and Chair­per­son Bongiwe Mango be­ing in­tro­duced to mem­bers.

FOL­LOW­ING: US Am­bas­sador Lisa Peter­son watch­ing as elec­tions of­fi­cers count the votes.

DE­LIV­ER­ING: TUCOSWA Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Mduduzi Gina de­liv­er­ing his speech.

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