Victor Maphosa recently in Goromonzi
The rate at which gender-based violence is occurring countrywide has prompted Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development to extend the campaigning period beyond the prescribed 16 days to 365 days.
Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Appolonia Munzverengi said the extension was an acknowledgement that gender based violence (GBV) is rife and therefore the fight against it should not be confined to just 16 days but should stretch throughout the whole year.
She was addressing thousands of people at Kadyamadare Primary School in Goromonzi during the Mashonaland East provincial launch of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
She said Government is in total support of any initiative aimed at ending gender-based violence.
Minister Munzverengi, who was represented by provincial deputy director, Mr Kudzai Chimusoro, said Government was concerned by rising cases of gender based violence and ending it was every person’s responsibility.
“As we launch this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against GBV, the Government is concerned with the rising cases and consequences of child marriages,” she said.
“In the fight against GBV, men of Zimbabwe should commit themselves to work towards addressing the problem as well.
“The fight against GBV cannot bear fruit if men and boys are left out of the effort to achieve a gender just society,” she said.
She said there was that need for men to join and partake the initiative as statistics indicate that 99 percent of GBV cases were perpetrated by men and boys.
“Men must be champions of gender equality and act as per our Constitution that obligates all citizens to be equal partners in development.
“Men need to enter into a transformative mode where they change and shift their attitude towards women and girls,” she said.
She said Zimbabwe had put in place significant legal policy frameworks aimed at dealing with GBV and sexual violence, notably the GBV Strategy (2012-2015), the National Gender Policy and the Domestic Violence Act.
She condemned child marriages as a violation of children’s rights.
She called for stringent measures against child marriages as this posed a threat to national development.
“It is sad to note that child marriages occur frequently among girls who are less educated, poor and living in rural areas.
“Girls pressed into child marriages often fall pregnant while still adolescents. This alone poses a threat to the national agenda of development. There are laws which currently criminalise child marriages, however there is need to align these current laws with the Constitution,” she said.
In reference to this year’s theme “Creating Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”, Minister Munzverengi called for an end to gender based violence at workplaces as it held back progress.
“It is essential for all participants in the workplace to affirm equality as a guiding principle that governs how each workplace operates,” she said.
According to the National Programme on GBV Prevention and Response (2016-2020), Zimbabwe is ranked at number 41 in the world with Mashonaland East Province fourth at national level.