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practices perpetuate gender-based violence
Mugugunyeki, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
December 08, 2013
Zimbabwe joins the rest
of the world in observing the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based
Violence (GBV) which ends on Tuesday as women in the country continue
to suffer due to suppressive traditional and cultural practices.
It is running under the
theme From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World, Let’s
Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women.
Like any African country,
Zimbabwe is riddled with traditional practices, rituals and attitudes
which perpetuate the discrimination and infringement of women’s
fundamental civil liberties.
In most societies, women
are not able to inherit estates and property while unequal dominant
patriarchal value system is the order of the day.
Gender division of labour
is rife, especially in rural communities where women are placed
in the “kitchen” while men do all the “macho”
Although gender sensitisation
meetings with traditional authority structures have been done in
the country with the aim of transforming rural communities to be
more sensitive to women’s economic and social rights and gender
equality, women continue to suffer at the hands of harmful traditional
and cultural practices.
is still a challenge in Zimbabwe, as one in four women have experienced
sexual violence and in nine out of 10 of the cases the perpetrator
is the woman’s current or former husband, partner or boyfriend.
Statistics also show
that one in three women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical
violence since the age 15.
In its endeavour to create
an enabling environment for the attainment of equity and equality
between women and men, Zimbabwe has ratified various international
conventions and declarations on gender equality Cedaw (1979), the
Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the Sadc Gender and Development
At home the
country has put in place various national legislative instruments
aimed at guaranteeing women’s legal and constitutional rights
these are contained in the new Constitution.
Despite these efforts
to bring about gender awareness at various levels in the society,
customary law has been allowed to prevail over these legislative
instruments leaving women vulnerable to harmful traditional and
a local women’s organisation, The
Women’s Trust, there is a need for continued involvement
of traditional authority structures in gender mainstreaming activities.
“It is important
to engage traditional leaders and democratise the institutions that
they lead so that they play their roles in a more gender responsive
manner,” said the Trust in its publication titled Policy Brief:
Sexual Violence and Rape.
Most women lack information,
education and access to the legal system. Women groups are going
to the grassroot with the hope of transforming communities to be
more sensitive to women’s economic and social rights.
While Zimbabwe has gone
further by coming up with some legally binding system through enacting
legislations that protect women from discriminatory laws, the conflict
between formal and customary legal systems is frequently unaddressed.
This has left women at
the mercy of the damaging practices.
Constitution of Zimbabwe was once described as the worst when it
came to the promotion of women’s civil liberties.
It was riddled with clauses
that discriminated women, unlike the new charter which fosters on
women’s economic and social rights.
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