BY DUDUZILE NDLUKULWANI
WOMEN in Matabeleland provinces have decried their poor representation in the traditional justice system, claiming it showed that they were still looked down upon by their male counterparts.
The women made the remarks at an indaba on the traditional justice system organised by Habakkuk Trust in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
Habakkuk Trust community advocacy action teams said women from Umzingwane, Gwanda, Matobo, Mangwe, Nkayi, Insiza, Tsholotsho and Bubi expressed concern over the unequal representation in most traditional courts in their areas.
“Women are not able to fully express themselves when it comes to issues affecting them due to the absence of women assessors because most traditional courts are male-dominated,” said Mollet Dube, Habakkuk Trust action team vice-convener for Umzingwane ward 5.
“We call for the appointment of women assessors in traditional courts, which will enable women to actively participate and not to be mere listeners.”
Another action team member, Mary Mhlanga, echoed similar sentiments, saying: “Issues of child marriages are not handled fairly, as well, due to the absence of women in decision-making positions.”
Said Sibongile Tshuma: “In my area in Nkayi, it is unfortunate that all assessors are men and the traditional leadership say they cannot accept a female assessor because it is taboo.”
The women said men had a tendency of intimidating them into silence, thereby leaving important matters unaddressed and so they proposed that they be included in the traditional justice system.