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WOZA MOYA December 2005
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
December 08, 2005

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence started on 25 November. This international campaign runs to 10 December and aims to raise global awareness that violence against women is an abuse of human rights. These dates link violence against women and human rights: 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 10 December is International Human Rights Day. The theme is For the Health of Women, for the Health of the World: No More Violence. (Pahutano hweMadzimai, hutano hweNyika: Hatidi ruzha.) (Impilakahle yabomama, yimpilakahle yezwe lonke: Asisafuni udlakela.)

The aim is to show that violence against women strongly affects their health and makes them much more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. 75% of people infected with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are women and girls.

Violence against women in Zimbabwe

  • On average six girls, many from child-headed families, report rape daily, about 6000 girls annually.
  • 20% of young girls do not attend school due to poverty. Of those who complete their primary education, only 50% proceed to secondary school. Three out of 10 people who sell wares are young girls of between seven and 15 years.
  • Six in 10 murder cases in Zimbabwe are due to domestic violence.
  • A whopping 75% of young people infected with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are women and girls. Over 3,000 people die every week of HIV/AIDS and 1.1 million children have been orphaned in Zimbabwe because of this disease.

On 25th November, at the start of the 16 Days of Activism, Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said government will do everything in terms of legislation and regulations to eliminate gender-based violence. He also said that the government has an excellent track record in the protection and of women’s rights and status. The same government that has arrested over 800 WOZA women in the last three years for doing nothing more than peacefully demanding the rights they were entitled to by the constitution of Zimbabwe. Over 15 of these women have been beaten or tortured by the police while in custody.

Musi wa25 Mbudzi, pakatanga mhembero dzemazuva gumi nenhanhatu dzisina ruzha kuvakadzi, vaPatrick Chinamasa, Mutungamiri, vakati hurumende ichaita zvese pamutemo kubvisa kudzvanyirirwa kwemunhu kadzi. Vakati ivo zvakare, hurumende ine matsimba ekuchengetedza lodzero dzevanhukadzi. Asi hurumende imwe chete iyoyi yakasunga madzimai anosvika800 eWOZA mumakore matatu apera, vachisungirwa kumirira kodzero dzavo. Gumi neshanu remadzimai ava vakato piswa nokushungurudzwa muhusungwa.

Ngo 25 November ekuqaleni kuka 2005, amalanga alitshumi lasithupha (16) ezokutshengisela Patrick Chinamasa, umkhokheli, wathi uhulumende uzakwenza konke okusemandleni akhe emthethweni ukuthi akhiphe udlakela olubhekiswe ebantwini. Waphinda wathi uhulumende uyingcitshi ekuvikeleni njalo ekwazini amalungelo abomama lokuba yibo kwabo. Uhulumende munye sewabopha omama abadlula amakhulu ayisitshiyangalombili beWOZA kuminyaka emthathu edluleyo bengona lutho, ngaphandle kokutshengisela ngokuthula befuna amalungelo abo abawanikwa yisisekelo sombuso weZimbabwe [constitution]. Omama abadlula itshumi lanhlanu sebatshaywa, bahlukuluzwa ngamapholisa nxa bebotshiwe.

WOZA, the acronym of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, is an Ndebele word meaning ‘Come forward’. WOZA is a registered trust formed in 2003. Our objectives are to:

  • Provide women from all walks of life with a united voice to speak out on issues affecting their day-to-day lives.
  • Empower female leadership that will lead community involvement in finding solutions to the current crisis.
  • Encourage women to stand up for their rights and freedoms.
  • Lobbying and advocacy on those issues affecting women.

We encourage women to speak out and hold their government accountable. Our mandate is to conduct peaceful protests in defiance of unjust laws that sanction our fundamental and god-given freedoms of assembly, expression and association. Through our actions, we create space to allow the general public to articulate issues they are too fearful to raise alone. WOZA has conducted over 30 protests in its three year existence. We recognise the sacrifice of over 800 women who have spent up to 48 hours in custody, some more than once. On 31 March this year, over 265 women and 20 babies spent a night in custody after conducting a prayer vigil on election night. These women, front-line human rights defenders, are willing to suffer beatings and unbearable conditions in prison cells to exercise their constitutional rights.

We have set out to prove that the power of love can conquer the love of power. ‘Tough Love’ is our weapon of mass mobilisation. 'Tough Love' is the disciplining love of a parent; we must practice it and bring dignity back to our families. Tough Love from the grassroots is the solution to the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe. Our rulers need some discipline; who better to dish it out than a mother! But what kind of mother would we be if we remained silent while our children cry from hunger? Do your children go to bed at night with full stomachs? Can you afford to send all your children to school and provide them with a promising future?

When WOZA was formed we adopted the highest risk option of demonstration when the most repressive laws were in effect. We had to find ways to speak out about our wellbeing rather that suffer in silence. We knew that police officers would support our struggle if they saw our love and determination. So when we march with love in our hearts, it helps us to bear the consequences. The consequences we suffer are arrest, assault and harassment by YOU – police officers. We know that you are our children, parents who are also trying to earn a living and feed your families.

Through our work we must break the chain of oppression. Rhodesia had an elite group of capitalists ruling over and oppressing people with unjust laws based on inequality. Little seems to have changed – we now have Zimbabwe and an elite group of black capitalists ruling over and oppressing people with unjust laws based on inequality. How many houses were some of you forced to destroy because of colonial housing laws? How may people did you make homeless and jobless through Operation Murambatsvina?

As the women of WOZA mark the 16 Days of Action Campaign with activities, we will be calling on Police officers to join us in saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, SOKWANELE, ZVAKWANA. During this time, and forevermore, WOZA demands that:

  • ALL Zimbabweans respect the rights of women and girls and violence against women is stopped. NO MORE VIOLENCE! Munhu wese aremekedze kodzero dzeMadzimai. Onke amaZimbabwe kumele ahloniphe amalungelo abomama lamantombazana njalo ngalokhu udlakela kwabesifazana aluphele. Asitshiyeni udlakela.
  • The police respect the rights of women human rights defenders and the women they represent. We call on the officers from all ranks to refuse to arrest WOZA women as they go about their peaceful business. Mapurisawo aremekedze kodzero dzeMadzimai, varambe kusunga Madzimai anomiririra kodzero dzavo. Amapholisa kumele ahloniphe amalungelo abomama abalwela amalungelo abo labomama ababamelayo. Siyalicela mapholisa avela kundawozonke ukuba lale ukubopha omama beWOZA nxa besenza imisebenzi yabo ngokuthula.
  • ALL police officers read and uphold the 2001 Harare Resolution on the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) Code of Conduct for Police Officials. The specific points that should be implemented to restore their dignity as professional police officers are, in particular, Articles 1 to 5. Mapurisa ese anzwisise nekuremekedza mhiko dzeMubatanidzwa weMapurisa ezasi kweAfrica dzakanyorwa muHarare mugore ra2001. Zvisungo izvi zvinosanganisira, magwaro 1 kusvika ku5. Wonke amapholisa kumele abale njalo agcine izivumelwano zika2001 ezenziwa eHarare ezeSouthern African Regional Police Chief Co-operation Organisation [SARPCCO] izinqumo zokusebenza zamapholisa. Izinto ezifuze zaziwe ngamapholisa ukuze babelezithunzi zabo njengamapholisa azi ngezomthetho yilezi.
  • Article 1 - ‘In the performance of their duties, police officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.’ (Mubasa ravo, Mapurisa achachengetedza kodzero dzevanhu.) (Ekwenzeni imisebenzi yabo, amapholisa kufuze ahloniphe njalo alondoloze izithunzi zabantu njalo bagcine amalungelo obuntu ebantwini.)

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Your mothers, sisters and grandmothers
Women Human Rights Defenders

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