Redrafted Traditional Courts Bill encourages 'equal participation of women'

2016-10-12 12:24
Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The reworked Traditional Courts Bill will be reintroduced to Parliament before the end of the year, the Department of Justice and Correctional Services said on Wednesday.

The new draft of the bill encouraged the "equal participation of women", Parliament’s justice committee heard on Wednesday.

Advocate JB Skhosana told the committee that the draft bill would now go through Cabinet, before being reintroduced to Parliament between November 29 and December 10.

An earlier version of the bill, which was first introduced to Parliament in 2012, was rejected after criticism from opposition parties and women’s rights groups. They said the bill trampled on the rights of women, especially in rural areas.

The bill lapsed at the end of the fourth administration.

Skhosana said, following several meetings with a reference group, parts of the bill were "clarified".

"The minister has set aside a consultation schedule, where he will continue to engage with all structures affected by the bill. The dialogue continues," he said.

The bill was not about transforming customary law, but about establishing structures that would help transform customary law.

"It’s a different dispensation that enhances access to justice. The bill recognises traditional courts as courts of law. It’s a different court from the conventional court. It’s got its own special proceedings, processes, and the enforcement is different," he said.

He assured the committee that the contentious parts of the bill would be addressed and that it would be in line with the Constitution regarding women’s roles.

"It creates a progressive approach for the equal participation of women. This was a very sore point during the public hearings. At the time, it created an impression of increasing the powers of traditional leaders and ignoring the role of women in the process. The bill (now) provides a progressive mechanism."

Read more on:    gender rights  |  parliament 2016

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