The Zimbabwe Gender Commission is one of five independent commissions established under Sections 232 (c) and 245 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and made operational by the Zimbabwe Gender Commission Act (Chapter 10:31), with the general mandate to promote, protect, and advance gender equality as provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
This year marks the 31st anniversary of the 16-day campaign under the global theme “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now”. The color orange symbolizes a better future, free from all forms of violence in general and violence against women and girls. The Commission joins the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
Violence against women and girls is a global crisis that knows no geographic or cultural boundaries. GBV manifests itself in a multitude of actions, including forced marriage of young girls, rape and sexual violence, verbal and physical violence. These practices constitute violations of the human rights of the people concerned. In addition, GBV has a significant impact at the individual level, with victims suffering from physical and mental effects, loss of income and increased health costs. Gender-based violence also threatens family structures, children suffer emotional damage when they see their mothers and sisters raped.
In Zimbabwe, while a number of positive results have been observed in the fight against gender-based violence, such as the enactment of the Law against Domestic Violence, the establishment of the Council against Domestic Violence, a sensitive constitution gender and the signing of international treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, among others, the Commission notes with great concern that cases of gender-based violence in all its forms continue to increase. The 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report shows that 39.4% of adolescent girls and women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and among women aged 15. at age 49, 11.6% have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. The Commission also notes with concern the ever increasing cases of child marriage, in particular in certain apostolic sects.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk and exposure of women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence. Collaborative efforts are needed from various stakeholders and individuals towards the prevention and elimination of all forms of gender-based violence (GBV).
The Commission continues to ask:
- Recognition that the genesis of GBV lies in the gender inequality which compromises the balance between the content of our legislative framework, the responsiveness of the structures established to ensure prevention, protection and enforcement against GBV and norms and values inherent in our beliefs, cultural attitudes, and behavior. It is therefore necessary to enact a law on gender equality that will enable transformative justice through gender equality and non-discrimination.
- The justice system to impose punitive and dissuasive prison sentences on perpetrators of all forms of gender-based violence such as sexual harassment, child marriage, among others.
- The government must speed up the enactment of a comprehensive legislative framework to combat sexual harassment.
- Strengthen data collection and invest in high quality surveys on violence against women and improve measurement of the different forms of violence experienced by women, including those who are the most marginalized.
- Research on the prevalence of various forms of GBV against women in their diversity, with particular emphasis on vulnerable and excluded groups such as women with disabilities, child-headed households, older women, young adolescent girls in the education system, women survivors of politically motivated violence, cyber targets of bullying.
- A strong referral system and safe shelters for victims / survivors.
- Call on survivors and the community at large to report all forms of GBV for justice and redress.
- Call on male gender champions to amplify and actively work with the women’s movement to lead the campaign against gender-based violence.
- Actions against gender-based violence must be integrated into COVID-19 response and recovery activities. As we continue to fight the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, let us not forget the silent pandemic of violence against women and girls.
Source: Zimbabwe Gender Commission