Women bear the brunt in extractive industries

Many women living around extractive industries such as mines and stone quarrying have borne the brunt of social and economic pressures linked to such operations, baseline survey findings have revealed.

Presenting wide-ranging findings at a workshop organized by the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association, in partnership with Action-aid International last week to launch the Fair, Green and Global Alliance Project, Thomas Deve, an academic consultant, revealed that gender-based violence is rife in these communities.

“In Mutoko, for instance, around the black granite extractive operations, households are almost collapsing as prostitution has become rampant, with young sex workers from the city and towns pursuing men,” said Deve.

Local clinics are over-burned by people with sexually transmitted illnesses caused by these activities. Households are becoming unbearable and domestic violence is now common. Some married women are up in arms against the sex workers as they are considered an “illegal people”.

Other manifestations of gender-based violence emanate from body searches by security personnel at or around work-places on these sites where women workers are often exposed to embarrassing intrusion.

The findings also note a similar scenario in the Chiadzwa Diamond mines at Marange. Deve pointed out that there was need for further studies around this and also the role of women in extractive and mining operations and how women are benefiting from these proceeds.

Chipo Mutanga, a representative of Mutoko North Development Trust, a community-based organization, agreed with Deve’s findings, saying women were hard pressed to gain any benefits both at home and at community level.

Action-Aid International Director, Dr Tsitsi Choruma, said women need to be strongly supported. She also said child labour was rampant in these operations.

“As in most social and cultural set ups, women living and working around these sites are often portrayed as victims rather than agents capable of contributing to social and economic solutions in their local economies,” she said.

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