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Horrifying statistics draw attention to gender-based violence - The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign
Pamberi Trust
November 13, 2012

Domestic violence is a sensitive, harrowing community issue that affects 1 in 3 women in Zimbabwe. It is a crime, and although legislation has been enacted to try and prevent it, many women find themselves in a position where they are vulnerable to physical, psychological, sexual and emotional abuse.

Statistics show that despite active campaigns from women's groups, government ministries and NGO's, domestic violence continues to be a major problem in Zimbabwe. From January to May 2012, a total of 3,141 domestic violence cases were reported to police, not taking into account all those victims too scared to make an official report and instead bear their wounds in silence. Most shockingly, 60% of the murder cases brought before the High Court are a direct result of domestic violence.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), domestic violence is defined as: "the intentional use of physical force or power, (threatened or actual) against oneself, another person or against a group or community that either results in (or has a high likelihood of resulting in), injury, death, psychological harm, reduced development or deprivation".

The most common perpetrator of domestic violence against women is a current or former husband or sex-partner. According to the 2010-11 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, 30 percent of women have experienced physical violence at some point since the age of 15. The passing of the Domestic Violence Bill in 2007 and the subsequent setting up of the Anti-Domestic Violence Council to enforce this law, has had limited results. It has become important, now more than ever with the rising statistics, to raise awareness of the scourge of domestic and other forms of violence against women in Zimbabwean communities.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign is a global initiative, founded by the Centre for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) in New York in 1991 to raise awareness of the issue and help change behaviors. Known as ‘The 16 Days Campaign', it begins annually on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence, and ends on 10 December, International Human Rights Day, dates chosen to emphasize that gender-based violence is a violation of human rights. The 16 Days Campaign is critical because it brings the human rights framework to the fore and uses it to make sure that both state and non-state actors around the world are aware and accountable. The Campaign is successful because of the activism of millions of women and tens of thousands of organizations worldwide, who are committed to ending gender-based violence.

This year the 16 Days Campaign continues with the theme: "From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!"

Harare Women Artists Join the Campaign

Since 2008, Harare arts development organisation Pamberi Trust has been a part of this global call to action, providing a platform at the Book Cafe through the FLAME project (Female Literary, Arts and Music Enterprise) to raise awareness of and join in the protest against gender-based violence, through music, poetry and spoken-word; films, discussions and workshops.

Last year in the lead up to the 16 Days, FLAME coordinated women artists for the launch of the "Non-violence Toolkit" developed by the Women's Action Group (WAG) for women in high density areas of Harare. This toolkit included a booklet with information and guidance to help women understand their rights and how to seek help should they find themselves in an abusive situation. As part of this effort and to mark the launch of this booklet, FLAME coordinated and managed two major concerts in Chitungwiza and Highfield featuring over thirty women artists in September 2011.

This year FLAME is once again proud to be actively involved in the 16 Days Against Gender Violence awareness campaign to stimulate action and discussion on this issue, with a powerful programme of activities lined up at The Book Cafe from 24 November to 8 December. These include music and poetry performances from some of Zimbabwe's most talented women artists; discussions, film-screenings, and ‘A Workshop for Women Artists by Women Artists'. FLAME's special guest for the 16 Days programme is acclaimed international US hip-hop artist, Akua Naru.

Visit the Pamberi Trust fact sheet

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