28 September

Success Story: Women getting justice in community courts on land disputes

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The Situation

The project is capacitating women, providing them with access to information on how to claim their rights in case of gender based violence. The community leaders are also sensitized on being gender sensitive and be guided by law not cultural values when giving judgment in the community courts.

The Response

Through the training on domestic violence and court processes, communities especially women become knowledgeable on their rights and processes to take in case of facing gender based violence. Through the hired consultancy, the communities have been imparted knowledge to claim their rights, taking necessary steps to seek justice. The community leaders were also sensitized on the laws including the inheritance law and they were made aware of their powers to give orders to some domestic disputes such as land disputes.

The Results and Evidence

There was a case of a widow with 5 girl children who was being threatened to be evicted from her land to the in laws for illegal selling to the land seekers.  The woman, accompanied by the village secretary, Mr. Friday Nyakudya explained her story. She was supposed to go for trial at Headman Gwindi in a week’s time where the in laws had reported the matter accusing her of refusing to leave their brother’s homestead. They claimed that this woman had no boy child to inherit the land and since the girl children will soon all get married, she is supposed to leave the land. However, some of the men who sit with the headman in community courts and the in laws were present during the awareness training and they had argued  a lot claiming that the woman should either accept to be inherited as a wife or else go back to her family when the spouse pass on. They were sensitized on the inheritance law in Zimbabwe and possible measures to be taken if they force to inherit the surviving spouse or forcefully take her land. The issue was also put on Wadzanai face book page for the stakeholders to comment and help the woman. Many comments were received on the page as well as phone calls to assist the woman. Finally the matter went to community court and the Field Officer for Wadzanai attended the hearing. The headman was quick to refer to gender equality and pointed out that all children deserve equal treatment regardless of gender. The in laws were given orders to refrain from taking the woman’s land or else they risk facing a criminal charge.  This case indicated that the community courts are now taking cognizance of the women’s rights in giving judgment as opposed to the cultural values as before.

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