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WiPSU condemns violence against woman MP
Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU)
August 31, 2005

Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) strongly condemns the assault perpetrated against Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi by fellow members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Gender-based violence is a serious violation of womenís rights and dignity and cannot be tolerated in whatever form or at whatever level. Women must be treated with respect in both the private and public spheres. Violence, as it was used in this case, is a dis-empowering tool and is intended to hinder womenís full participation in decision-making processes.

Womenís fight for representation in decision-making positions at the political party and Parliament levels is a tough one. Practices and policies within the system deter a lot of women from participating. As a nation we must celebrate and applaud the women who have withstood the trials and tribulations and made into positions within political parties and Parliament. We must also appreciate their immense contribution to the development of this country instead of subjecting them to violence. How does the MDC project itself as a party that is seeking to build a democratic Zimbabwe when it shows no respect for women within its own party?

It is our understanding that youths were involved in the assault. There is a widespread concern over how the youth have been indoctrinated with a violence mentality and the assault on Hon. Misihairabwi is a demonstration of how the patriarchal system regenerates itself by breeding a young generation that believes in violence against women and does not see anything wrong with it. If these youths can batter a woman MP, an elected representative what more their mothers, sisters and wives in the privacy of their homes?

We are saddened by the fact that MDC appears to be condoning the violence. We had expected that by now the party would have issued a strong statement condemning the incident and facilitating concrete actions to ensure the arrest of the perpetrators and their expulsion from the party. We have not heard any public condemnation of the assault and that is greatly disturbing. MDC must come out strongly against gender-based violence if women are ever to feel secure as members and leaders in the party. Political parties need to build systems and practices that facilitate womenís political participation and not hinder it.

We call upon the leadership within the MDC to follow up on this case so that the culprits are brought to book. Hon. Misihairabwi should not just be another statistic or another juicy story for the media. Her case speaks to the lived realities of women in the public and private spheres. Justice must take its course!

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