Themba for Girls Trust (IGT) in Zimbabwe joins the world in commemorating The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), a global campaign that seeks to raise awareness on gender-based violence
The campaign runs from the 25th of November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to the 10th of December (International Human Rights Day) under the theme “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape !”.
GBV includes a range of behaviors that target, and are reinforced by ideas about gender, gender roles, and sexuality. GBV can be experienced by men and women and includes rape and sexual assault, female genital mutilation, as well as domestic abuse. But in most cases, it affects women and girls more worldwide.
Women including girls (12-19 years) across the globe universally are subjected to some form of sexual abuse, physical violence or rape during their lifetime.
Global Statistics on GBV continue to be a cause for alarm as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2017 that 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced some form of abuse from their partners in their lifetime and that their partners commit 35% of murders of women.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), about one in three women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about one in three women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 in Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, statistics on GBV continue to be a cause for concern. Zimbabwe National Statistics Office revealed in their report in 2017 that rape cases had increased tremendously by 42% and at least 21 women were being raped every day.
The report also stated that domestic violence was on the increase and 78% of the reported cases were committed by intimate partners.
In Zimbabwe, the patriarchal nature of society and the socio-economic environment are contributory to the physical and sexual violence against women.
Due to the patriarchal nature of the Zimbabwean culture, physical and sexual violence against women and girls is perceived acceptable on the societal basis that, “she deserved it” or “men are allowed to as they are the administrators of justice in society”.
These alarming statistics require a collective approach from all sectors of the society to work towards protecting women and girls from all forms of abuse
While IGT acknowledges the existence of legislation enchanted by the Zimbabwean government which seeks to protect to a certain extent, victims of GBV, like the Domestic Violence Act (Chapter 5.16) and the efforts to introduce the Marriage Bill as legislation, more needs to be done in ensuring that statutory laws are fully adhered to and that justice is delivered in cases of GBV
MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe weighed in calling on the campaign against GBV to run not only for 16 days but throughout the year.
”Violence stands against our values as Africans, therefore, let us take action against the abuse of women and children.
I would like to conclude by alluding to the fact that the campaign against gender-based violence must not be for the period during the 16 days that is from November 25 to December 10, but it must go throughout the 365 days,” Khupe said
IGT reiterates that there is a need for all members of society to ensure a change of attitude towards ending all forms of GBV towards women and girls.
Each community must take a leading role in the protection of the rights of its women and girls. Awareness Programs meant to educate people on GBV should be introduced in schools at an early age aimed at educating the youths on the various forms, causes, and consequences of GBV.
There is a further need to initiate Community Awareness Programs and engage churches, the security sector, and workplaces to highlight the various forms of GBV and their negative impact on individuals and society.
Zim Ninja is offering free classes for self-defense for women and youth groups to teach them how to defend themselves and do away with Gender-Based Violence as the country joins the rest of the world in celebrating the 16 days of activism against GBV.
In June, the Spotlight Initiative — a four-year global UN program supported by the European Union to fight GBV — was launched in Harare. Under the program, Zimbabwe will receive US$34 million of the €500 million availed globally by the EU for GBV programs at multiple levels. Zimbabwe is one of the eight countries in Africa to benefit from the fund.
There is an additional need to establish psychosocial support systems in communities to offer immediate support to the victims as well as supporting the police in the administration of justice in GBV cases.
The existing laws and policies applicable to GBV and femicide must be reviewed without further delay to ensure that all legislative gaps are identified and to ensure that the laws are more victim-centered and responsive.
IGT commends those who have stood up to make a difference in ensuring that women and girls are protected from all forms of abuse in different communities.
In a joint statement to commemorate the start of the 16 days of activism against GVB, the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe (Bulawayo), Victory Siyanqoba and Intwasa Arts Festival acknowledged government’s efforts towards eliminating GBV.
Source: IThemba for Girls Trust (IGT)