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Joy as Sexual Offences Act of 2009 is passed

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MBABANE - The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) is extremely heartened that Members of Parliament passed the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act of 2009 on Thursday.

The Act now awaits royal assent by His Majesty King Mswati III for full enactment into law. 
“SWAGAA, as part of the Gender Consortium and in collaboration with other NGOs, government agencies and funding partners, has been advocating for a comprehensive law to address sexual offences and domestic violence since 2004,” said Maureen Littlejohn the organisation’s  Communications Officer

She said finally, outdated colonial legislation with discriminatory requirements, light sentences, omission of some offences, and little survivor support would be replaced.
“The legislation, upon enactment means stiffer sentences for perpetrators, which in turn will deter future offenders.
“It will also mean access to legal recourse and justice for survivors of these brutal violations,” she said.

The Act, once it becomes law, means the terms of various international conventions and commitments the country has signed and ratified in relation to ending violence against women and girls and ensuring the protection of all people against gender based violence, would be honoured.

The law stipulates the creation of a register of sex offenders that can be used by organisations to help screen potential employees working with vulnerable populations, for example convicted perpetrators of sexual violence against children would be prevented from working with children.
“All collaborating partners and survivors of violence are waiting with great excitement and anticipation for the final stage in its enactment, the royal assent by His Majesty King Mswati III,” she said.  

Littlejohn said the enactment of the legislation marked the beginning of an era where the human rights, dignity and bodily integrity of vulnerable and violated individuals in society are recognised and protected.

“For the legislation to be effective, it is necessary to put in place appropriate mechanisms, systems, measures and capacity building among all responsible sectors to ensure its full implementation and access to justice for survivors,” she said.

She said SWAGAA would continue in its resolve to ensure that the appropriate response institutions were engaged, challenged and supported to ensure that gender-based violence was prevented and all survivors receive comprehensive support services.

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