Implications of Cultural Practices and Norms on the Realisation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Gender Commission conducted a field investigation of the impact of social and cultural practices of Ward 7 of the Chilonga Community of Chiredzi to the enjoyment and realisation of sexual and reproductive health rights of both women and men, boys and girls. The investigation was influenced by a Community Dialogue, which was held by the Zimbabwe Peace Project in August 2019, as part of a series of Provincial Human Rights Community Dialogues. Read on to get more on the findings and recommendations.

The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) is one of the five Independent Commissions which are established in terms of Section 232 of the Constitution. The establishment and functions of the ZGC are provided for in Sections 245 and 246 of the Constitution as well as the Zimbabwe Gender Commission Act. Within its broad mandate of monitoring and ensuring implementation of gender equality provisions in the Constitution, some of the functions of the Commission are to monitor issues concerning gender equality, investigate possible violations of rights relating to gender, secure appropriate redress where rights relating to gender have been violated and to do everything necessary to promote gender equality. In pursuance of this mandate and on its own initiative, the ZGC conducted an investigation into the implications of cultural practices on realisation of sexual and reproductive health rights in Zimbabwe. The investigation was conducted in Ward 7 of Chilonga Communal Lands in Chiredzi as from 5-7 December 2019.

The prominent cultural practice amongst the Shangaan who reside in the Chilonga community is khomba, which is an initiation rite for both boys and girls as they progress from childhood to adulthood. It was also highlighted that as from around July to August 2019, the Chilonga Community was invaded by commercial sex workers who engaged in transactional sexual activities with both older and young men within the community in backyard rooms at a local business centre. These sexual escapades were dubbed magate. The name emanated from a popular song (50 Magate) by a dancehall artist from Harare known as Enzo Ishall, which the commercial sex workers danced to in order to lure men for transactional sexual activities. With time, the term magate was localised to refer to the women who were providing sexual services. It was alleged that a local businessman, acting as a pimp, brought commercial sex workers to Chilonga Community, where the women provided sexual services to the local men and he pocketed the payments. It also emerged that even male high school students had joined the magate bandwagon with some of them engaging in stock theft of goats so that they could acquire money to pay for transactional sexual activities.

Access the full report here (189KB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project

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