Women and law in Southern Africa is implementing a campaign entitled “Justice delayed is justice denied”. One of the implementing strategies that Women and Law in Southern Africa adopted is court monitoring. WLSA is conducting court monitoring with the objective of tracking sexual violence offences in the following courts: Harare Rotten Row court, Chitungwiza Regional court, Beitbridge Regional court, Marondera Regional court and Kadoma Regional court. In terms of Section 61 of Criminal Law Codification & Reform Act, it defines sexual offenses as unlawful sexual conduct means any act, the commission of which constitutes the crime of rape, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, sexual intercourse, or performing an indecent act with a young person or sodomy. The Government of Zimbabwe is a signatory to various international and regional instruments on the rights and protection of children has implemented a number of protective policies, legislative instruments and Programmes national level to ensure the fulfilment of all children and women’s rights and specifically their right to protection from sexual violence and abuse. A Multi-Sectoral Management Approach of Child Sexual Abuse was also developed to provide guidance on sector agencies’ roles and responsibilities. The court monitoring also aimed to reveal whether the courts are following the Multi Sectoral Management of Sexual Violence cases that provides that sexual violence cases have to be dealt with within 72hrs.
However, what led WLSA to conduct the court monitoring is the notion that Society often raises eyebrows and questions the authenticity of the sexual offenses cases claims while the judiciary sometimes doubts the violent nature of the crimes and the evidence that is submitted especially if the victim is a commercial sex worker, or has a “questionable social background”.
In addition, Research has indicated that the way in which sexual offenses crimes are handled within the criminal justice system from reporting to punishment does not address women’s needs and concerns. Furthermore, practice in some courts has shown that sexual offenses victims are often re-victimised in the courtroom in the form of attacks on their credibility and past sexual history. Some within the judiciary system even argue that female victims’ allegations must be carefully scrutinised because women are considered to be inherently suspect as witnesses. The attack on their integrity is even made worse with an inadequate sentencing, where a rapist gets a lesser sentencing than a cattle rustler.
Hence in light of the above, the court monitoring is premised on the notion that this will assist the campaign by increasing the transparency of the judicial process and access to justice. The presence of monitors can lead court officials to implement improved fair trial practices and build confidence in the judicial process.it will also identify gaps in the justice delivery systems and lobby for improvement in service provision through policy and law reform that are favorable to the vulnerable and marginalized women and girls in a notion that action to combat violence against women and girls.
 Court monitoring is an exercise in support of the right to a public policy.
 Example of the Convention on the rights of the child and the Convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
 Example of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) on the Rights of Women in Africa
 This is a Protocol which was introduced as a guideline for handling sexual violence cases to protect women and girls
 through partnerships between government ministries and departments and between government and civil society.
 Wlsa research: women and gender generated reproductive crimes of violence(2001)