Biti’s gender record in tatters as women score big in assault ruling Mrs Tatiana Aleshina

Herald Reporter

Tuesday’s judgment on a verbal assault case committed by Tendai Biti on businesswoman and investor, Mrs Tatiana Aleshina, at the Harare Magistrates Court four years ago, is testament that exposing women and other vulnerable groups to verbal, emotional, physiological and psychological trauma using brawn or macho tactics in whatever disguise cannot go unpunished.

In her ruling, following a four-year trial, Harare magistrate, Mrs Vongai Guwuriro, convicted Biti and placed him in a cage by ordering him not to commit any similar offence in the next five years to avoid the six months jail time put on ice in lieu of a US$300 fine.

Mrs Guwuriro ruled that while a custodial sentence “would be too harsh”, and community service should be “reserved for more serious offences”, the effect of the assault on the complainant “cannot be ignored”.

She cited that as a Member of the National Assembly at the time of the offence, and a legal practitioner, Biti should have been conscious of how people expect him to behave, particularly in public spaces.

Mrs Guwuriro also castigated Biti for wasting the court’s time by making applications for referral to the Constitutional Court “on a piecemeal”.

In her victim impact statement, Mrs Tatiana Aleshina submitted to the court that she suffered physical and emotional injuries from the “terrifying” incident, and had to seek medical attention.

Medical records show that she was traumatised by the experience and suffered heart palpitations, post-traumatic stress disorder, high blood pressure, and low self-esteem after being verbally abused and embarrassed by Biti within the court premises.

“As a vulnerable and defenceless woman, I felt insulted, humiliated, belittled and degraded to the lowest level of life; being shouted at within the courts of law by a man who is supposed to use the same courts to uphold people’s rights”, said Mrs Aleshina.

Gender advocate, Ms Elizabeth Parirenyatwa, underscored that beyond the US$300 fine that Biti was ordered by Mrs Guwuriro to pay, the protracted legal case has “tarnished” his “gender record”, celebrating it as “a victory for women” as they reclaim their lost voice on “matters of gender equality and mutual respect”.

“The assault case, the conviction and judgment has put Tendai Biti’s gender and anger record on the spotlight”, she said.

Ms Parirenyatwa implored women to respectfully stand up for their rights for justice to prevail, and counselled men to learn from this unfortunate case to promote a peaceful society where both men and women live happily and harmoniously.

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