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Structures of violence: Defining the intersections of militarism and violence against women
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

December 13, 2010

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition joins the world in commemorating the 16 days of activism against gender based violence and calls upon the inclusive government to urgently dismantle structures of violence which have been used to instigate politically motivated violence against women. The Coalition demands that perpetrators of these abuses should be prosecuted ahead of any possible election.

Thousands of women have lost their homes and families during political instability and were physically, psychologically and sexually abused by suspected youth militia and state security apparatus. Inspite of the formation of the inclusive government in 2009, structures of violence remain intact and perpetrators of violence remain free, while their victims are subjected to further victimisation. The use of structures of violence in perpetrating the abuse of women in the country is systematic and dates back to pre- independent Zimbabwe. There are thousands of women who were raped before and after independence, some of them contracting sexually transmitted diseases while others were forced to mother children whose fathers they never knew. It is common cause that rape does not only scar the survivor physically but also psychologically and emotionally. Despite the cases of rape as a political tool reported and recorded, the inclusive government of Zimbabwe remains mum on the abuses, ignoring the plight of the victims for judicial recourse or dismantling the structures responsible for instigating these abuses.

The use of rape during key national political processes and the culture of impunity embedded in Zimbabwe's political environment, continues to deprive women of their right to participate in key national processes. Zimbabwe is a state party to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which states, under Article 7 that 'State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies...' The use of violence targeted against women has ultimately led to increased fear among females to participate in national elections and other political processes, negating the aforestated rights that they ought to enjoy.

As the country moves towards a constitutional referendum and possible elections in 2011, there is need for the inclusive government to dismantle the structures of violence and protect the right of women to participate in national processes by apprehending perpetrators of violence and arraigning them before the courts of law. The continued existence of structures of violence in Zimbabwe's body politic, and the continued unwitting promotion of the culture of impunity will lead to continued women's rights abuses and further entrenchment of perpetration of violence against women.

The Coalition demands that the inclusive government;

  • Dismantles the infrastructure of violence as exemplified by youth militias, bases and partisan conduct from members of the security and justice communities.
  • Probe allegations of politically motivated violence with the view of apprehending perpetrators before possible elections in 2011
  • Create a conducive environment for women to participate in national processes particularly as the nation moves towards the constitutional referendum and possible elections in 2011.

During this year's 16 days of activism against gender based violence, The Coalition has also conducted an internal scan with the view of making civics space safe for women by avoiding unwitting or unintended structures of violence against women. The Coalition urges other civics, political parties and social movements to follow suit, in order to ensure that people's organisations do not become the beasts that they are fighting.

Visit the Crisis in Zimbabwe fact sheet

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