Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
Gender activists continue to challenge harmful cultural practises that perpetuate gender inequalities and expose women and girls to risks of violence and abuse.
Across the world, women and girls face violence every single day. However, the Covid-19 pandemic made the year a little more difficult for some. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, reports show that all types of violence against women have intensified, worsening this already pervasive human rights violation.
In an interview, Women Action Group (WAG) executive director Ms Maria Chiwera said issues of harmful cultural practises need to be addressed urgently as they are the root causes of gender based violence.
“The 16 Days of Activism must serve as a call to action to every Zimbabwean to take a stand and to make a bold statement against all forms of gender based violence. Homes should be safe spaces, the workplaces must be a happy place, free of harassment, school must be a safe space. There must be no space that is tolerant to abusers.”
Ms Masiiwa also said response mechanisms should be strengthened and avoid delays in reporting cases of abuse. In Zimbabwe, about one in three women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about one in four women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. As a strategy to tackle gender-based violence, the 16 days of activism campaign was initiated. This period starts on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, and ends on Human Rights Day, December 10.
This commemoration is a global demonstration of solidarity in eliminating violence against women and girls and it calls for collective action from governments, citizens, civil society organisations and the private sector.
Although it is now exactly 10 years since Zimbabwe and its regional counterparts have been commemorating this event, the situation on the ground actually shows that the problem of gender based violence is far from over.
Despite incessant campaigns, different messages in programming, all aimed at addressing the problem, gender-based violence continues unabated.
The dilemma of gender-based violence has become a multifaceted problem which now requires concerted effort from every Zimbabwean.
Since last year, cases of sexual and gender based violence, rape cases and child marriages have been on an increase in Zimbabwe. According to statistics, Mashonaland Central province is one of the provinces with high records of child marriages and gender-based violence cases.