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Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA)
December 08, 2013

For the last couple of years, the Government of Zimbabwe has run with a theme of 365 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, and not just 16 days. Whilst this is a commendable move, it is clear from a reading of the local newspapers that more needs to be done to curb gender-based violence.

Reports have tended to focus mostly on violence occurring within the private sphere, which indeed affects women and children more, but the silence on other forms of violence against women in Zimbabwe is loud. Police operations such as Chipo Chiroorwa, have caused untold physical, emotional and psychological trauma to women who have been arbitrarily arrested on allegations of loitering for the purposes of prostitution. Moreover, increased incidents of harassment of women in public places such as bars, taxi ranks and streets has derived women of their fundamental right to human dignity. The new Constitution clearly states that, “ Every person has inherent dignity in their private and public life, and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.” When a woman is harassed, mocked or arrested simply because she is a woman that dignity is stripped away from her. ZWLA urges all Zimbabwean citizens and residents to protect and promote women’s right to dignity.

It was refreshing to read in The Herald of 5 December 2013 that a man got a custodial sentence for assaulting his wife. In the report titled “Habitual wife basher locked up”, the man was given a custodial sentence, which has become increasingly rare in domestic violence cases. ZWLA urges all courts handling matters of violence against women to pass stringent sentences to deter would-be perpetrators of violence from the practice.

As the country commemorates 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association makes the following recommendations to the Government of Zimbabwe:

  • Recognise and protect Women Human Rights Defenders as they carry out their work in promoting and protecting the rights of women in Zimbabwe.
  • Increase women’s economic empowerment programmes to cover all women despite political affiliation so that they do not stay in marriages and partnerships that endanger their lives for finacial stability.
  • Increase number of shelters across the country where women can find reprieve when faced with danger.

Visit the ZWLA fact sheet

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