“Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”
ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the rest of the world in marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence from 25 November to 10 December 2021 under the global theme “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!” set by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ UNiTE campaign which symbolises a brighter future, free of violence against women and girls.
Commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence comes at a time when Zimbabwe has been recording an increase in child marriages and is still reeling from Anna Machaya’s case who was married-off at 14 years and later on succumbed to death whilst giving birth. This has shown us that in times of crisis, cases of gender-based violence rise, as seen during the coronavirus pandemic and recent humanitarian crisis, conflicts and climate disasters in areas such as Chimanimani.
A new report from UN Women, based on data from 13 countries since the pandemic began, shows that two in three women reported that they or a woman they know experienced some form of violence. Unfortunately, only one in 10 women said that victims would go to the police to report or get help. The lack of reporting among victims and survivors has led to an unprecedented increase in violence against women.
Notwithstanding the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown measures and the decline in COVID-19 cases, ZLHR laments the fact that more women who are victims and survivors of sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) are not reporting cases as they should be doing and continue to suffer in silence. It is the responsibility of all citizens to report cases of gender based violence and assist victims to access justice.
Gender-based violence can and must be prevented. Given the strides made since the Beijing Conference in 1995, there should be less talk and more action. Stopping this violence starts with listening and believing survivors, adopting comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes of GBV, transforming harmful social norms, and empowering women and girls through Internal Savings and Lending (ISALs), training and preparation for political and business offices, knowledge about constitutional rights and laws against GBV, among others. With survivor-centric essential services across policing, justice, health, and social sectors, and sufficient financing for the women’s rights agenda, Zimbabwe can end gender-based violence.
Therefore, ZLHR calls on:
- Government to expedite the passing of the revised Marriage Bill so that the legal age of marriage is at par with what is stipulated in the Constitution.
- Government to facilitate the adoption of the National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women peace and security which is long overdue.
- Government to adopt survivor-centric essential services across policing, justice, health, and social sectors, and sufficient financing for the women’s rights agenda.
Civil society and citizens:
- To unite and expose any and all violence against women and girls occurring at various levels of society.
- To continue to raise awareness about GBV and improve referral pathways so that victims and survivors know where and how to report.
- To break the silence and create safe spaces, such as in the church, to talk about GBV and dedicated to ending and preventing all forms of violence against women.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Kodzero/Amalungelo House
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118)
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