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Tsitsi Dangarembga calls for an end to domestic violence
Fungai Tichawangana, The Zimbo Jam
November 30, 2009

No one saw it coming. Amid the celebrations of those films that had won awards at the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF), amid the glitz, the glamour and the evening elegance came a razor sharp reality check. A reminder that the same beautiful Zimbabwe we live in is the country where women still get beaten up by their husbands every single day- sometimes with fatal consequences, and a reminder that we all need to do something to stop this sort of thing from recurring.

"I know a country where women get beaten up till they abort their twins," said IIFF founder Tsitsi Dangarembga, just before the presentation of an award that honours a man who has understood the vision of IIFF and worked hard to assist the festival achieve its goals.

"A country where the man who beats her up is arrested and then overnight, makes a deal with a police officer, and is set free. I know a country where distinguished gentlemen who seat on the boards of academic institutions make and break contracts with women at will- but still remain distinguished gentlemen.

"A country where daily women get beaten up because the sadza was too hard, or not hard enough," Tsitsi went on in an impassioned impromptu speech that got the room pin-drop silent.

"Does anyone know which country this is?"

"Zimbabwe," members of the audience responded in unison.

"Yes," Tsitsi continued, "I think we should be ashamed. I think we should be so ashamed that we resolve to make a change. We need to face it. We cannot pretend that these things are not happening. That is why this next award is very important. It goes to a man who has come out and said I will work with you. I will honour you."

The prize, titled the Best Friend of IIFF Award, had three nominees. The first was award-winning journalist Terrence Mapurisana, because of his ability to bring attention to a wide variety of cultural issues, ideas and personalities and his highly regarded arts segments on ZBC's News Hour which cover artistic aspects of all genres, regardless of gender.

The second is a man who has for the last three years held the post of Operations Manager of Pamberi Trust and has worked with artists of all types at the Book Café and the Mannenberg including the IIFF organisers, Women Filmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ). His name is Ian White.

The third nominee was born in Rusape, is married with one son and holds a Bachelor of Business Studies from the University of Zimbabwe and a Masters Degree from the Zimbabwe Open University. He is currently the Assistant for Culture, Information and Public Relations at the Japanese Embassy in Harare. His name, Mr Amos Masango.

Leo Wamwanduka was the fourth nominee. He has over seven years experience in the NGO sector. He is currently Director of Padare Enkundleni Men's Forum on Gender. He has worked on gender based violence programmes and several programmes promoting positive fatherhood as a strategy to promote HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. He has conducted research on the history of the women's movement in Zimbabwe as well as presented papers on masculinities and gender at various regional and international platforms. He has been a supporter of WFOZ since the first edition of IIFF.

The award, which included a statuette and US$200 cash went to Terrence Mapurisana.

The IIFF Awards ceremony coincided with the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women.

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