Celebrated under the theme ‘One Billion Rising for Justice’, this year’s commemorations were done in five districts up from the single event done in Harare last year.
Women and youth organisations in partnership with government representatives and communities commemorated the day in Masvingo, Harare, Bindura, Bulawayo, Mutare and Chitungwiza through marching and hosting various dance activities.
The OBR campaign celebrations sought to promote and educate women and girls to break free from confinement, obligation, shame, guilt, grief, pain, humiliation, rage, and bondage on abuse.
Rampant abuse of women
Gender based violence the world over continues to violate women and girls rights. Last year the UNWomen published a research which stated that 1 in 3 women on the globe suffer some kind of abuse in their lifetime.
Statistically, this translates to about one billion women being abused in one form or the other on the globe.
The Country co-ordinator for the OBR campaign in Zimbabwe, Nyasha Sengai said the event aimed at advocating for an end to rampant impunity that prevailed globally for perpetrators of abuse.
Said Sengai: “The commemorations reflected the importance of dance in the Zimbabwean culture as a form of building community alliance to fight societal ills such as GBV.”
She said the campaign was a global call to women and girls who had survived violence and those who loved them to gather safely in their communities and demand justice.
“It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right,” said Sengai.
In Bulawayo, the commemorations were held in the capital city and one of the event co- ordinators representing people with disabilities, Soneni Gwizi said it was important for victims of abuse to speak out.
“People with disabilities, like everyone else are victims of abuse,” she said.
“They are more vulnerable because they are not able bodied. There is need to ensure that they are motivated to seek justice whenever their rights to a safe and healthy environment are violated,” said Gwizi.
Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust’s Doreen Kamwendo said failure by victims of abuse to speak out made it difficult to come up with interventions to help reduce incidences of abuse.
“The campaign signals more awareness towards this cause because there is no way that justice can prevail when the victims maintain their silence,” said Kamwendo.
She said it was important to set up support groups within communities which would continue raising awareness on the importance of reporting abuse.
Institute for Young Women Leadership co-ordinator Dorcas Zamchiya called for deterrent sentences for perpetrators of abuse.
“The justice system should be such that those found on the wrong side of the law should be convicted accordingly and they should be given deterrent sentences,” she said.
Youth Initiative for Community Empowerment Trust co-ordinator, Nyasha Dhladhkala, who celebrated the OBR campaign in Nyanyadzi, Mutare said there is need for a co- ordinated approach in raising awareness against GBV.
“GBV knows no geographical boundaries and there is need for partnerships in fighting the scourge of abuse in the country,” she said.
Dhladhkala revealed that because of the high turn out at the commemorations, it was important for organisations working within communities to incorporate the campaign against GBV in their programming.
“Communities are hungry for information. Organisations working in communities should spread the gospel of zero tolerance towards GBV and we will definitely make an impact,” she said.
Invest in youths
Real Opportunities for Transformation Support Communications manager, Gamuchirai Kujeke, whose organisation held the commemorations in Bindura, Mashonaland called on organisations to continue advocating for a violence free country even after the OBR campaign.
“Youths are the future leaders and they should take a leading role in championing and advocating for a violent free country. It is the responsibility of parents to raise children who respect others and shun violence because abuse starts in the home,” she said.
Zimbabwe’s first Violence Against Women Baseline Study established that over two –thirds of all women interviewed had experienced some form of violence at least once in their lifetime, while close to a half of all the men interviewed admitted that they had perpetrated some form of violence in their lifetime.
The 2013 SADC Gender Barometer, an analysis of the progress made by Zimbabwe towards realising the 2015 set targets under the SADC guidelines states that women and girls continue to experience high levels of sexual and physical violence.
Read the report: “Women’s access to justice remains limited due to the unavailability of legal services to survivors of violence especially in remote and rural areas.”Post published in: News