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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill
Activists demand GBV law
March 07, 2006
the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence
BULAWAYO - Rising
gender-based violence (GBV) in Zimbabwe has rekindled calls by women's
and children's rights groups to hasten the enactment of a seven-year-old
bill seeking to curb domestic violence.
"Women and girls in particular are suffering deplorable acts of
violence at the hands of men: some have been murdered, while others
have been raped. It is in view of such occurrences that we call
for a law that will protect women," said Hazviperi Makoni, spokeswoman
for the Women's
Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCZ), an umbrella body of women's rights
The ongoing campaign for the enactment of the Prevention
of Domestic Violence Bill received fresh impetus two weeks ago,
when a 17-year-old girl was reportedly murdered by her boyfriend
during a domestic dispute in the capital, Harare. The brutal killing
also evoked a strong response against domestic violence by the country's
first ever woman vice president, Joyce Mujuru, a long-time advocate
of the bill.
Backed by the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Community Development
and the UN Population Fund, rights organisations have mounted a
widespread campaign against domestic violence on the eve of International
Women's Day on Wednesday.
Although no statistics on GBV are available, press reports and data
collected at workshops by concerned NGOs indicate a sharp rise in
violence against women and girls, according to WCZ.
The Girl Child
Network (GCN), an NGO working in 32 of Zimbabwe's 58 districts,
said it had recorded an average of 700 rapes of girls aged up to
16 every month in 2005 - more than 8,000 cases. According to GCN,
93 percent of the children raped were girls and seven percent were
The bill makes domestic violence a crime in its own right and also
covers economic, verbal and psychological abuse, intimidation and
stalking. Cultural practices that degrade women, such as virginity
testing, female genital mutilation and wife inheritance are also
included. Currently, physical and sexual abuse of women are treated
as crimes of common assault.
Activists have voiced concern about the slow passage of the bill
through parliament, which only has 20 women among its more than
100 legislators. To highlight the unequal representation, the theme
of Wednesday's commemoration will be 'Women in Decision Making'.
The Women in Politics
Support Network (WiPSU), an NGO, advocates an unbiased approach
to participation in the country's affairs. "Political parties serious
about the development of Zimbabwe should ensure that 50 percent
of those in key decision-making positions are women ... and women
should also vote for parties that demonstrate gender sensitivity."
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