Reject militarism as a facet of violence against women

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the global community in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence-an international campaign which seeks to raise awareness about gender based violence.

The campaign is commemorated between 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and 10 December (International Human Rights Day), symbolically linking women and human rights, and confirming that Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a human rights violation.

This year, the international theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!”

Militarism is ‘an ideology that creates a culture of fear and supports the use of violence, aggression, or military interventions for settling disputes and enforcing economic and political interests.’

Militarism therefore refers to an attitude that occurs at all levels of society, from the home, to the workplace, to institutions and organs of state.

Despite the relevance of this topic to gender struggles worldwide – including Zimbabwe, the national campaign appears to have been censored and stripped of its substance, so that this is the message permitted: “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge All Forms of Gender-based Violence”.

ZLHR returns to the original question, in the well-founded belief that it is the perseverance of women, human rights and peace movements that have challenged the social structures which allow violence and discrimination to continue, and sought to define security as one that emphasises peace and the fulfillment of human rights as the way to achieve genuine security for all.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to many international instruments, protocols

and tools which seek to protect and respect women’s rights such as the Beijing Platform for Action, the Covenant on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations Security Council’s Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960 on Women, Peace and Security and more. Zimbabwe took the lead in the SADC region by being the second state to ratify the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, a key regional instrument for advancing women’s rights and gender equality. It contains substantive

targets for achieving gender equality by 2015, including that of reducing by half current levels of GBV, making this initiative a global front-runner!

Zimbabwe has made great progress in accepting these standards for women; however, there remain major gaps in implementation and in accountability for implementation.

Regrettably, in 2011 there have been significant violations of women’s

rights, against such obligations.

These consist of arbitrary arrests and detention of women Human Rights

Defenders (HRDs) including mothers with minors, denial of medical treatment for women activists in detention, discrimination, sexuality, baiting, discriminatory stereotyping of women HRDs, and violations of women’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful protest in contravention of CEDAW, one of the most highly endorsed international human rights conventions.

Gender-based violence is a deliberate outcome of discrimination, gender hierarchies and militaristic behaviour. Of particular note is the use of sexual violence such as rape, as a tactic to create fear and to humiliate or punish women and their communities. Attention must be paid to the violation of women’s rights when they are victimised as part of a political process-during election times for example.

On this occasion, ZLHR challenges individuals, communities, traditional leaders, the Police and Prisons Services, the National Youth Training Programme, Youth and Women’s Caucuses, the Security Forces, the Courts and the Inclusive Government; to reject militarism as a facet of violence against women; to advocate for standards of peace and equality in all relations; and to make progress towards the elimination of gender-based violence by ending the culture of impunity.

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