16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

IThemba for Girls Trust (IGT) in Zimbabwe joins the world in commemorating The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), a global campaign that seeks to raise awareness on gender-based violence. The campaign runs from the 25th of November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to the 10th of December (International Human Rights Day) under the theme “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape.”

GBV includes a range of behaviours which target, and are reinforced by ideas about gender,gender roles, and sexuality. GBV can be experienced by men and women and includes: rape and sexual assault, female genital mutilation, as well as domestic abuse. But in most cases it affects women and girls more worldwide.

Women including girls (12-19 years) across the globe universally are subjected to some form of sexual abuse, physical violence or rape during their lifetime. Global Statistics on GBV continue to be a cause for alarm as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2017 that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced some form of abuse from their partners in their lifetime and that 35% of murders of women are committed by their partners.

In Zimbabwe statistics on GBV continue to be a cause for concern. Zimbabwe National Statistics Office revealed in their report in 2017 that rape cases had increased tremendously by 42% and at least 21 women were being raped every day. The report also stated that domestic violence was on the increase and 78% of the reported cases were committed by intimate partners. In Zimbabwe, the patriarchal nature of society and the socio-economic environment are contributory to the physical and sexual violence against women. Due to the patriarchal nature of the Zimbabwean culture, physical and sexual violence against women and girls is perceived acceptable on the societal basis that, “she deserved it” or “men are allowed to as they are the administrators of justice in society.”

These alarming statistics require a collective approach from all sectors of the society to work towards protecting women and girls from all forms of abuse.

While IGT acknowledges the existence of legislation enchanted by the Zimbabwean government which seeks to protect to a certain extent, victims of GBV, like the Domestic Violence Act (Chapter 5.16) and the efforts to introduce the Marriage Bill as legislation, more needs to be done in ensuring that statutory laws are fully adhered to and that justice is delivered in cases of GBV.

IGT reiterates that there is need for all members of society to ensure a change of attitude towards ending all forms of GBV towards women and girls. Each community must take a leading role in the protection of the rights of their women and girls. Awareness Programs meant to educate people on GBV should be introduced in schools at an early age aimed at educating the youths on the various forms, causes and consequences of GBV. There is a further need to initiate Community Awareness Programs and engage churches, security sector and workplaces to highlight on the various forms of GBV and their negative impact on individuals and society.

There is an additional need to establish psychosocial support systems in communities to offer immediate support to the victims as well as supporting the police in the administration of justice in GBV cases. The existing laws and policies applicable to GBV and femicide must be reviewed without further delay to ensure that all legislative gaps are identified and to ensure that the laws are more victim-centred and responsive. IGT commends those who have stood up to make a difference in ensuring that women and girls are protected from all forms of abuse in different communities.

Source: IThemba for Girls Trust (IGT)

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