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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Index of articles surrounding the debate of the Domestic Violence Bill

  • ZIMBABWE: Activists demand GBV law
    IRIN News
    March 07, 2006

    View the index of articles on the debate around the Domestic Violence Bill

    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 groups.

    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 boys.

    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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