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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
Gender activists protest MP's anti-women remarks
October 11, 2006
the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence
HARARE - Women's
organisations are outraged by an opposition parliamentarian who
urged the national assembly not to pass a bill aimed at stamping
out domestic violence, because women were inferior to men.
During debate on the
Domestic Violence Bill, Timothy Mubhawu, member of parliament (MP)
for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told parliament: "I
stand here representing God the Almighty. Women are not equal to
men. This is a dangerous bill, and let it be known in Zimbabwe that
the rights, privileges and status of men are gone."
His remarks in the wake
of disclosure by gender and women's affairs minister Oppah Muchinguri
that over 60 percent of all murder cases in Zimbabwe were linked
to domestic violence, sparked spontaneous protests.
Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF government
rarely permits demonstrations, but more than 200 people from the
Women's Coalition, an umbrella body for 35 women's organisations,
protested outside parliament in the presence of police, petitioning
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai to ensure that Mubhawu apologised
for his remarks. The ZANU-PF women's league joined the protest.
"This Bill seeks
to bring harmony in the home, and if parliament is not going to
protect women and children, who will? Women are the majority of
the voters and we therefore feel betrayed," the coalition said
in a statement.
founder of the Girl
Child Network, a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) working
in 32 of Zimbabwe's 58 districts, commented, "The MP made some
very outrageous and gender-insensitive statements, and we have to
express our anger by marching against him - he has made a lot of
people angry. It is unfortunate that such statements should come
from an official who should be representing both women and men in
Earlier this year the
network said it had recorded a monthly average of 700 rapes of girls
aged up to 16 in 2005, or more than 8,000 cases annually, of which
93 percent were girls and 7 percent were boys.
The bill, first mooted
a decade ago, has drawn widespread support from the international
community. The Swedish embassy said in a statement that "prioritisation
of women and children rights is an area which requires more attention
globally. Society definitely needs to do more in this area and the
introduction of the bill, albeit belatedly, is a move in the right
After accepting the petition
from the women, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of a faction of the MDC,
said Mubhawu had merely expressed his personal opinion. "As
a party we respect women and their rights. We believe you are right
in condemning violence and sexist statements made by those who were
certainly not representing the views of the party," he told
"The challenge that
I pose to you, as women, is that you must not be selective in your
revulsion for violence. We did not see these kinds of demonstrations
when other women, such as Lucia Matibenga, were brutally assaulted
by the police while in police custody. Violence is violence and
it must always be condemned."
of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, and several other women from the labour
federation were allegedly assaulted last month by the police for
protests over the worsening economic conditions in the country
and the government's failure to provide anti-AIDS drugs to people
living with HIV. Matibenga is now partially deaf as a result.
Annual inflation in Zimbabwe
is hovering at around 1,000 percent and unemployment levels are
above 70 percent. Food, treated water and fuel are in short supply,
and power outages are common.
Members of other
women's organisations seen to be in opposition to President Robert
Mugabe's government, such as Women
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have allegedly been beaten and detained
by police, without any public condemnation by the ZANU-PF women's
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