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Zimbabwe: Girls rise up and sing about abuse
November 02, 2005
View audio file details: Interview with Betty Hazviperi
Makoni and members of the GCN in Chitungwiza
grapples with a major economic crisis young and energetic Zimbabwean
girls have come together to courageously fight a silent war raging
in their communities: the war on sexual abuse. With no special regalia
or artillery, the girls are armed simply with their melodic high-pitched
voices. Their combined musical talents recently produced the music
album: Wake Up Girls – Child Sexual Abuse: Lets develop a culture
The album is
inspired by Betty Hazviperi Makoni, the Founder and Director on
the Girl Child Network (GCN) an organisation that promotes the rights
of the girl child in Zimbabwe. The Girl Child Network’s mission
statement reads: "We envision a society where girls enjoy their
political, social and economic rights and walk in the fullness of
Based in Seke,
Chitungwiza 30km out of Harare, the Girl Child Network is located
in Unit F, one of the many areas overflowing with raw sewage. This
is one of the signs of the town’s failure to cope with a growing
population. Also visible in Seke are mountains of rubble left over
from what the locals describe as the Tsunami otherwise referred
to as Operation
Murambatsvina (the destruction of homes and mass eviction of
people in urban areas).
all these challenges Betty Makoni continues her fight for the rights
of the girl child. The Girl Child Network office receives at least
6 cases of child abuse on a daily basis. In July 2004 the Sunday
Mail newspaper reported that cases of child sexual abuse were on
the increase in Chitungwiza with a total of 139 having been reported
to the police between January and May.
imagination and creativity Betty Makoni was instrumental in conceptualizing
the album in an effort to provide both education and entertainment
through music. Ms Makoni hopes that the album will encourage girls
to come out in numbers and report child sexual abuse and rape. She
says, "It is a taboo in most of our homes for a child to talk
about matters that are sexual, and to divulge to the family that sexual
abuse has taken place".
Makoni and her son
Machakata Secondary Girls Club from Gokwe performs the title track
of the album Wake Up Girls. The girls sing about how they
did not know about their rights when they were raped and the song
encourages girls to wake up and fight for their rights. Other songs
featured on the album include Zororo Kuvana (Peace To The
Children) by the Njerama Traditional Dance Group from Mutasa; Stand
Up And Rise Up Girls by the Shashi View Girls Club from Chitungwiza;
Rega Kuchema (Stop Crying) by the St Lukes Girls Club from
Bindura and Mwanasikana Anongoshungurudzwa (A Girl Child
Is Always Troubled) by the St Oswald Primary Girls Club from Mhondoro.
music that is played on local radio, Ms Makoni said "urban
grooves" - a Zimbabwean urban music style - is not gender sensitive
and degrades women. She said: "girls are portrayed as sex objects
(chimoko and chi-danger) and there is blame placed on the
girl". In an effort to counter this negative portrayal of girls
Ms Makoni urged the girls to spread positive messages in their own
words and voices and thus the Girl Child network music album became
is also Chairperson of the Women’s
Coalition, an organisation that works with Zimbabwean women
in achieving gender equity and equality.
For her tireless
efforts in promoting the rights of the girl child, the Women’s
World Summit Foundation (WWSF) has renamed one of their awards
for Prevention of Child Abuse Activities, the Prize Betty Makoni.
The Girl Child
Network music album is available at their offices in Zimbabwe.
Visit the GCN
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