By Wallace Mawire
Zimbabwe has launched its national 16 days of activism against gender based violence in Harare today.
The national programme to bring awareness on the elimination of gender based violence and sexual harassment has been launched by the minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Nyasha Chikwinya.
According to Chikwinya, today, the 25th of November marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence which is an internationally recognised campaign on ending Gender Based Violence.
She said that Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence whose specific objectives are to raise awareness on gender based violence as a human rights issue.
The campaign also seeks to strengthen local work around gender based violence, to provide a forum for sharing progress, strategies and challenges in ending gender based violence and to demonstrate solidarity with survivors of gender based violence.
According to the minister this year’s commemorations are being held under the theme “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Creating safe spaces for women and girls”.
She said that this year’s theme comes at a time when Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence continue to be rife in the country’s communities.
She added that Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (2015) reports that the prevalence rate of domestic violence is at 35%.
“Similarly sexual harassment cases in public places, institutions of higher learning and at work places also continue to be a cause of concern, Chikwinya said.
She said that it is disheartening to note the levels of sexual harassment in the country’s tertiary institutions.
She added that the levels have been made worse by the harsh economic conditions the country has been experiencing over the years.
She said that “Sexually transmitted marks” have become a common phenomenon as students are given a good mark in exchange for sexual favours.
It is also reported that in addition lack of accommodation in tertiary institutions has further, exposed most girls to sexual abuse by sugar daddies.
During this year’s commemorations the country will be intensifying efforts in addressing sexual harassment and other forms of Gender Based Violence in public places which often robs women and girls of their integrity and dignity.
“We need to make our cities safe for women and girls so that they can be able to contribute effectively to the development of our towns and cities,” Chikwinya said.
She said that the Government of Zimbabwe remains committed to addressing all forms of Gender Based Violence as evidenced by the launch of the National Programme on GBV Prevention and Response (2016-2020) which is the guiding framework for all GBV interventions in the country.
The National Programme will comprehensively address all forms of Gender Based Violence which include HIV/AIDS and GBV, disability and GBV, migration and GBV, human trafficking, GBV in the world of work and religion and culture in relation to GBV
Chikwinya said that this was an improvement from the previous strategy and she hopes that it will go a long way in addressing the problem of GBV in the Country.