Statement commemorating16 days of activism against gender-based violence 2022
THE Law Society of Zimbabwe joins with other CSOs such as Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association and Government in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
The global campaign runs from 25th November which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women ending on the 10th of December marking Human Rights Day. The commemoration began in 1991 and has been ongoing under various themes from that time to date.
This years’ theme is UNiTE: Activism to end violence against women and girls; which serves as a reminder to us all that ending VAWG is everyone’s responsibility. This campaign provides an opportunity to bring together different stakeholders to build a movement towards ending violence against women and girls as well as to celebrate the advances made against this social menace.
Violence against women remains the most widespread human rights violation; said to be affecting 1 in 4 women globally.
In Zimbabwe we have laws in place such as the Domestic Violence Act which provides for protection against various forms of violence, the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act which criminalizes all forms of sexual assault, and the Constitution which guarantees freedom from violence among other rights. In addition, Zimbabwe is a signatory to various regional and international instruments that promote rights and gender equality such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, amongst others. Notwithstanding, women and girls continue to be affected by various forms of violence.
Recent reports of sexual violence being perpetrated against young children are increasing, and alarming. There is the young girl aged 9 from Tsholotsho who recently gave birth, as well as the girl from Bindura also 9 years old who was also raped and is currently pregnant. Another recent example is a young girl also from Beitbridge who was recently raped by her stepfather.
In Macheke, a couple was arrested for raping and sexually abusing their 2 minor children, an 8 year old boy and an 11 year old girl. These are just a few of the reported cases where children have been violated. The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development recently shared that 220 minor children were raped in the course of a period of 9 months – that is from January to September 2022 – representing 58% of the 435 cases that were reported. This shows that older women are also not spared in this scourge. The Minister also shared that there were 1038 reported cases of domestic violence. The majority of domestic violence cases are reported by women, they therefore remain the most affected.
It is a fact that there are a lot of other cases that go unreported for various reasons including fear, and families choosing to quietly resolve these matters without reporting.
We therefore continue to call on all members of society to take an active role in ending violence against women and girls by reporting perpetrators, providing support to survivors of violence and openly discussing these issues to challenge stigma. In addition, we call upon the various government Ministries to take all measures for the enforcement of various laws so as to protect women as we all UNiTE to end violence against women and girls.