Press Statement on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

We the undersigned organisations are deeply concerned that gender-based violence against women and girls continues unabated, becoming a source for discriminationagainst women and girls and contributing to an intolerable rise in human rights violations.

This year’s theme: “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape,” resonates with worldwide calls by civil society and childrens’ rights organisations to end violence against women and girls in all its forms and galvanise for advocacy reforms in promoting and protecting their rights.

ZimStat’s quarterly digest of statistics for the fourth quarter of 2016 released by Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency recorded that 8,069 women were raped in 2016 while recent statistics released for the first quarter of 2018 recorded that 7,394 rape cases were reported in 2017. ZimStat data indicates that at least 22 women are raped daily in Zimbabwe, translating to almost one woman being sexually abused every hour. Women in public spaces also experience various forms of gender-based violence while clamouring for political inclusion, stemming from arbitrary deprivations of their liberties through unfair and unequal access to opportunities. Further, entrenched cultural norms disassociate marital rape as a valid form of violence against women thus, preventing victims from seeking justice.

Beyond its impact on individuals, gender-based violence has undesirable consequences on families, institutions and societies such as enormous costs on social and economic activities of states. The adverse effect of gender-based violence is an impediment to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal 5 that seeks to ensure the observance of gender equality and various national and transnational growth goals. We acknowledge concerted efforts by the government in improving the policy and legal framework to incorporate laws that seek to eliminate gender-based violence. In line with the global commitments, Zimbabwe, post 2004, stepped up action against domestic violence, abuse and rape through a series of legislative and policy reforms and programmes. These include – the enactment of the Criminal law Act (2006); Domestic Violence Act (2007) and the setting up of the Anti-Domestic Violence Council to enforce this law.

The provisions in the 2013 Constitution uphold this commitment. Chapter 4 of the Constitution, Part 2, Sections 51, 52 and 53 provide for the right to dignity, personal security and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and all forms of violence. Section 52 of the Constitution provides that “Every person has the right to bodily and psychological integrity which includes the right to freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources”. The National Gender Policy of 2013 sets out strategies towards elimination of Gender Based Violence. These strategies include the formulation of policies to protect women from GBV, eradicating harmful social practices, instituting gender audits and evidence-based research and documentation on GBV as well as strengthening institutional and coordination mechanisms for addressing gender-based violence at all levels including increased financing towards awareness activities.

Through legislation and policy reforms, these instruments provide the courts with mechanisms to enforce the legal obligations towards eradicating Gender-Based Violence.

State and non-state actor collaborations should be enhanced so as to promote greater success in attainment of provisions of the Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other regional statutes to which the country is signatory to. Through activities planned for the 2019 edition of the 16 days of Activism Against GBV, the partners seek not to portray women as victims but as agents of change in the fight against gender-based violence. Post the 16 days, the partners are committed to facilitate the inclusion of women and girls in mainstream social and economic activities where they can assert themselves as decision makers.

In commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the undersigned will be running a campaign to raise awareness and stimulate grassroots discussions through visual and performing arts. Through this partnership, the organisations will convene interactive community platforms to discuss the effects of Gender-Based Violence on women and girls.

Source: Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)