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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: November 13 2007 »

Consequences of Violence Against Women affect every member of society and yet Violence Against Women continues with impunity despite the coming into force of the African protocol on Rights of Women, which was adopted by the African Heads of State and Government on July 11th 2003. The 2007 regional theme for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, November 25 - December 10, is "I commit to preventing violence against women! What about You? Speak out, reach out, stand out!".

Every individual is urged to add your voice and efforts and commit to preventing Violence Against Women in your personal relationships, extended families, communities and nations as a whole. Confront Violence Against Women and treat it as a violation of women's rights that fuels the spread of HIV and has dire economic consequences on families, communities and nations. What about your? What will you do? Speak out! Stand out! Commit to preventing Violence against Women.

With your participation, WOUGNET in collaboration with Womensnet - South Africa and APC Africa Women, is conducting an SMS-based campaign where the idea is to send out SMS on each of the 16 Days of Activism that will allow individuals and organisations to Speak Out, Stand Out, and Commit to preventing Violence against Women. Details of the campaign and how you can participate are provided below (SMS Campaign).

In addition, WOUGNET in partnership with Overcoming Gender Based Violence (Overcoming GBV) - Oxfam GB,  is making a number of materials available to WOUGNET members and partners to mark the 16 Days of Activism.

E-cards and e-posters are also available online at: http://www.preventgbvafrica.org/.

source: monthly electronic newsletter from Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) - http://www.wougnet.org
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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« Reply #1 on: November 17 2007 »

16 DAYS' CONCERT: HARARE DIVAS AGAINST VIOLENCE
Saturday 24 November 2007, 2am-2pm
@ The Book Café & Mannenberg, Harare

From 25 Nov to 10 December Zimbabwe will once again join the rest of the world to focus on ‘16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN’ ­ a global campaign to SAY NO!” to violence against women, which is now in its 17th year and sweeping the world.

In a dazzling 12-hour music programme on Saturday 24 November, Pamberi Trust’s gender programme FLAME and its participating artists join the world in standing up against violence at a star-studded concert at The Book Café & Mannenberg Jazz Club on Fife Ave (two shows from 2pm to 2am).

Featuring top women artists of Zimbabwe who are widely acclaimed household names, alongside up-and-coming young performers of note, the concert will celebrate womanhood, and relay a strong message against violence against women. Artists confirmed to perform are Busi Ncube & Band Rain, Bernie Bismark & Utopia, Chiwoniso Maraire & Vibe Culture, Dudu Manhenga & Color Blu, Edith Katiji & So What?, Patience Musa & The Other Four, Prudence Katomene-Mbofana, Rute Mbangwa & Jazz Sensation, Selmor Mtukudzi, Sister Flame, Vimbai Zimuto, Yulith Ndlovu, poet Linda Gabriel, and a performance by Global Arts Theatre. This amazing line-up offers great entertainment across the genre board, from traditional mbira to jazz, rhythm & blues to afro pop and reggae, poetry and theatre.

The concert will take pleasure in advertising activities and events of other organisations celebrating the 16 Days in Harare, of which there are many.  For 16 Days after the Sat 24 Nov concert, women artists performing at The Book Café & Mannenberg Jazz Club will dedicate a song against violence, for peace ­ a message that can never be spread too widely in our world.

Significant dates of the 16 Days campaign are: International Day Against Violence Against Women (November 25th), International Women Human Rights Defenders Day (November 29th), World AIDS Day (December 1st), the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (December 6th) and International Human Rights Day (December 10th).

F.L.A.M.E.

Pamberi Trust’s gender project ‘FLAME’ (Female Literary Arts & Music Enterprise) is supported by HIVOS and designed to help bring female performing artists into the mainstream of the arts, and since 2006 the project has been working with both established and emerging women artists to strengthen and equip them to be taken seriously as professionals in the mainstream of the arts industry in Zimbabwe.  All artists performing at the 16 Days concert have participated in training workshops, promotions and events in the FLAME programme.  Along with live events to promote different artists, workshops have included “Divas Deliberate”, “A Workshop for Women Artists by Women Artists” I & II, Scriptwriting for Stage & Comedy” and “Songwriting”, with bass and mbira workshops still to come in 2007.

A recent workshop held in collaboration with Global Arts Trust was entitled “No Sex Combatants” and gathered young female artists from music, theatre and dance to address issues of abuse in the industry.  The workshop evolved into a second workshop “Women in Performing Arts” called for by participants to form a representative body for women in the performing arts.  With the guidance and assistance of gender activists Judith Chiyangwa and Cleo Ndlovu, this setup is now in progress.

THE 16 DAYS CAMPAIGN

Since 1991, the 16 Days Campaign has helped to raise awareness about gender violence and has highlighted its effects on women globally. Each year, thousands of activists from all over the world utilize the campaign to further their work to end violence against women. The campaign has celebrated victories gained by women’s rights movements, it has challenged policies and practices that allow women to be targeted for acts of violence, it has called for the protection of people who defend women’s human rights and it has demanded accountability from states, including a commitment to recognize and act upon all forms of violence against women as human rights abuses.

The 2007 Campaign Theme is “Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles: End Violence Against Women”, and seeks to help dismantle obstacles and overcome challenges posed by social attitudes and policies that continue to condone and perpetuate gender based violence.

INTERNET DISCUSSION

Join the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence email listserve discussion, which lets activists share work against violence, build partnerships with others worldwide, and develop strategies and themes for the annual 16 Days Campaign. To join the discussion, visit
https://email.rutgers.edu/mailman/listinfo/16days_discussion.

Penny Yon
FLAME project coordinator
For Pamberi Trust

12 Nov 2007
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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« Reply #2 on: November 30 2007 »

DEMANDING IMPLEMENTATION, CHALLENGING OBSTACLES
Irene Sithole

Irene Sithole writes that Zimbabwe's women suffer violence in all environments including work place, the home and the political arena.

In Zimbabwe, violence against women continues to be a challenge with hardly a day passing without at least one case reported in the media. Women suffer violence in all environments including work place, the home and the political arena. Domestic Violence is the most common and pervasive form of violence against women in Zimbabwe. The problem is exacerbated by the culture of silence around the issue coupled with religious and cultural practices that condone violence particularly domestic violence. The magnitude of the problem of domestic violence spurred women’s rights defenders to advocate for a law to address domestic violence. The result of the advocacy was the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act (Chapter 5:16) (hereinafter referred to as the Act), which came into force on 25 October 2007.

The question, which should be uppermost in everyone’s mind, is now that the Act is in place what is next? For this reason the theme for this year’s 16 days of activism against gender based violence could not have been more relevant for Zimbabwe. The Act has to be implemented effectively and this can only be done by challenging all the obstacles that may hinder effectiveness. The objective of this paper is to analyse these obstacles and suggest some ways of overcoming the obstacles. The writer has been involved in information dissemination and development of implementation plans for the Act hence the analysis will draw a lot on this experience. The writer has identified three main challenges or obstacles to the effective implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. These are

i) Resources both human and financial
ii) Knowledge of the law and
iii) Negative attitudes towards the law

Resources

Effective implementation of the domestic violence law will require a lot of resources. Awareness programmes have already started and resource materials are required for the programme. In disseminating information on the Act, people need the actual Act for further reference. Others need simplified versions and versions translated into their vernacular languages. Beyond information dissemination, resources are also needed to put in place certain structures that are provided for in the Act. Some of the structures are domestic violence sections at all police stations and safe houses for complainants of domestic violence.

Besides financial and material resources, effective implementation of the law will require manpower. The various government departments who have the mandate to implement the law such as the police, the courts and health officials should have adequate staff for complainants to be assisted expeditiously. Zimbabwe as a nation is currently experiencing the challenge of skilled manpower with most people living the country in search of greener pastures. This means that new people have to be trained to fill in the gap.

Overcoming the obstacles of resources seems like an insurmountable task considering the economic crisis that the nation is going through. However, the obstacle can be overcome by prioritizing and applying a multisectoral approach to resource mobilization. Given the high incidence of domestic violence in Zimbabwe, it is argued that the issue deserves priority in the national budget. The 2008 national budgets are currently being prepared and this is an opportunity to factor in funding for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The state needs to show its commitment to the elimination of domestic violence by providing funds for the Act’s implementation. However, one needs to appreciate that the state alone does not have sufficient funds hence the need for all stakeholders to combine resources to fight the scourge of domestic violence. This means that the government, civil society and the private sector all have to mobilize resources and make a meaningful contribution in funding the implementation programme. The resources mobilized can be used for information, education and communication materials development setting up of safe houses and training and capacity development of personnel.

Knowledge of the law

Whilst sharing the provisions of the Act with various stakeholders, the writer has been amazed by the things which are said to be in the Act which are not there. Unfortunately this lack of knowledge is not only found in the receivers of information but even among resource persons and facilitators disseminating the information. The distortion of information could have arisen from the fact that when the law was still in Bill form, all women’s rights activists took it upon themselves to raise awareness on the law among the public. While this was good when one considers the area covered and the speed with which the information travelled, the problem was that some of the information disseminators had not seen the Bill. They just passed on information, which they had heard from those who had the Bill. Further to that, others who are without a legal background did not interpret the provisions of the law correctly. The Bill also underwent some amendments in Parliament. Some people continued to disseminate the information in the original Bill without noting the changes that had been effected in Parliament.

Since people cannot utilize a law, which they do not know, it is imperative that the advocates for this law and the implementers join hands in conducting an intensive national awareness programmes. In carrying out this awareness programme, those who have no legal expertise must ensure that they involve legal experts so that beneficiaries receive correct information. The implementers themselves i.e. court officials and police officers ought to be trained so that they know what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it.

Negative attitudes towards the law

The introduction of this law has sent shock waves among cultural and religious circles where it is viewed as usurping of husbands’ marital power by women. Some opponents even went further to attack the women who were advocating for the law labeling them as divorcees and singles seeking to destroy other people’s marriages. The gatekeepers argue that the family is sacred and the law should not interfere in family matters. They contend that if there are any disputes between husbands and wives, they should be solved through the cultural or religious structures because the private should be separated from the public.

Attitudes are the greatest obstacles to the implementation of this Act because usually they cannot be changed overnight. One has to keep pushing and lobbying until change occurs. Some of the resistance stems from ignorance of the law and therefore the religious and cultural leaders need to be targeted with information in order for them to understand that the law protects both men and women. However, involvement of the cultural and religious leaders has to go beyond information dissemination to a level where the leaders appreciate the benefits of the law so that they can also influence acceptance among their followers.

Conclusion

Despite these obstacles this year’s commemoration of 16 days of activism against gender based violence is a time of celebration for Zimbabwe. It has been a long road to have a domestic violence law in place. The struggle went on for more than ten years but now the Act is operational. We celebrate this achievement and we celebrate the lives of those women who have put their reputation at stake to ensure that the law becomes a reality.

* Irene Sithole is the Gender Based Violence Programme Officer for Women's
Action Group, an NGO which advocates for women's rights in Zimbabwe.
She can be contacted by email at renesithole@yahoo.com or
irene@wag.org.zw

source: Pambazuka News 330 http://www.pambazuka.org
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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« Reply #3 on: November 30 2007 »

BINGA DISTRICT: WOMEN FORCED TO GIVE SEXUAL FAVOURS TO SURVIVE
Miriam Madziwa

Miriam Madziwa writes that each time the Zimbabwe dollar tumbles, women's survival chances take a corresponding knock, as it means more sexual favours to seal deals with men, who by virtue of their jobs or connections are able to make or break women's survival attempts

With her unkempt hair tucked into a woolen hat, a faded T-shirt, skirt and a pair of torn canvas shoes, Nokhuthula Tshuma* does not fit the stereotypical profile of a commercial sex worker. As an informal trader earning a living selling agricultural produce from rural areas to urban residents, it is difficult to link her to sex work and its inherent dangers.

Yet, the mother of three, like thousands of impoverished Zimbabwean women struggling to feed, clothe and educate their children in a hyperinflationary environment, is at great risk of infection. Each time they embark on a business trip, the women expose themselves to vulnerable situations.

As the Zimbabwean economy crumbles, shortages of basic goods have presented numerous opportunities for enterprising women to make money. The same shortages of goods and essential services such as transport coupled with endemic corruption mean the women traders have to operate according to business rules defined by men.

One such rule is to offer a “favour,” really a bribe, to secure scarce commodities and free passage by police officers. For these impoverished and desperate women, the bribes take the form of offering "a little bit extra" to male service providers and suppliers in order to remain in business. These extra favours are invariably sexual.

For the cash-strapped women, sex offers an easy and cheap, albeit risky, means of supporting their families. In return, they are able to secure scarce goods as well as discounts on transport and accommodation and their businesses flourish.

A few experiences gleaned from a cross section of informal Zimbabwean women traders illustrate the magnitude of the dilemma these women contend with in trying to meet economic needs and safeguarding their health.

Tshuma lives in the southern half of Zimbabwe in the coal-mining town of Hwange. Twice a month, she makes a 400 kilometer round trip to Lusulu in Binga district. Lusulu is a thriving agricultural area where Tshuma barters basic goods such as soap, sugar and salt, which have disappeared from shop shelves, with maize. Normally she is away from home for a week.

If she were to pay for all her transport, food and accommodation expenses when she is away from home, she would make very little profit. So to boost her profit margins, she pays using what is known as "bottom currency," to pay off bus crews to secure seats on overcrowded buses, truck drivers to ferry bags of maize back to Hwange, and lodge owners to discount her accommodation costs.

Beauty Phiri started selling dried fish six months ago soon after government's clampdown on prices saw butchers' refrigerators going empty. An astute entrepreneur, Phiri saw a viable business opportunity selling dried fish to protein-starved Bulawayo residents. She sources her fish fresh from the Zambezi River in Binga from both Zimbabwean and Zambian fishermen.

She points out that it did not take her long to figure out that she had to sleep with the fishermen for her to get in order to meet her requirements quickly. Women fishmongers openly admit that fishermen prefer to deal with "generous women."

On the extreme end of the age scale are poor girl pupils in remote rural schools, such as Lusulu High School. Pupils walk an average of 20 kilometers to get to school from their homes, so many become “bush borders.” Bush boarding is an informal set-up where pupils build their own huts and have to find their own food and other basic requirements.

Many pupils come from poor families who are unable to send regular supplies of cash and food to the borders. In desperation, female students resort to illicit affairs with teachers, police officers and other rich villagers. Statistics from Lusulu indicate that annually, an average of 50 female students drop out of school after falling pregnant.

Thanks to HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns, most women who find themselves in such situations are aware of the inherent dangers of their survival tactics. The women know that HIV and AIDS have reduced the life expectancy of women in the country to 34 years, and that the pandemic is decimating families and drastically reducing mortality rates.

The sad reality though, is that the poverty forces these women to engage in risky behaviour in order to survive anyways. Some women still are not making the connection between granting sexual favours and the increased risk of infection.

Another worrying fact is that when women travel a lot, their partners are likely to turn to mistresses called “small houses” in Zimbabwe, during their absence. These "small house" occupants in turn often have numerous partners in an attempt to balance their ever-increasing monthly expenses with their incomes.

These bleak scenarios aptly portray how Zimbabwe's economic meltdown, characterised by hyperinflation now at almost 15 000 percent, is fuelling the vulnerability of women to HIV infection and erasing the gains of concerted HIV and AIDS awareness and behaviour change campaigns. The black market, a phenomenon triggered by acute shortages of basic goods and services, is forcing desperate women to forget lessons learnt from these campaigns.

The instinct to meet basic needs has erased survival skills painstakingly acquired over the years. Each time the Zimbabwe dollar tumbles, women's survival chances take a corresponding knock, as it means more sexual favours to seal deals with men, who by virtue of their jobs or connections are able to make or break women's survival attempts.
Even more disheartening is the realisation that efforts to break the vicious circle will come to nought until the economic free fall stops.

* Not her really name


* Miriam Madziwa is a freelance journalist based in Zimbabwe

* This article is part of a series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence

source: http://www.pambazuka.org
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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« Reply #4 on: December 29 2007 »

Feminist reflections on gender violence, political power and women’s
emancipation

From Rhodesia to present day Zimbabwe: Just as during the liberation
struggle when women combatants, were told national liberation first,
their emancipation later, today, women who have gone into front-line
politics are being sold this ‘two stage’ approach model. This approach
implies that the struggle is gender neutral, and that we suffer the
impact of State repression the same way, and that when freedom is
attained we(men and women) will have the same political will, to reverse
gender disparities or to dismantle patriarchy.

Source: Pambazuka
http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/44842
More information in "Gender-based violence":
http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/3982.html
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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« Reply #5 on: January 22 2008 »

Zimbabwe: A champion of children

source: Mail&Guardian (South Africa), by Yolandi Groenewald - January 21, 2008.

Abused girls in Zimbabwe have a new heroine. She might not wear a cape or have a signature martial arts move, but this woman has saved numerous girls from terrible circumstances and created a better life for them. Children’s rights activist Betty Makoni, the founding director of the Girl Child Network Trust, is Zimbabwe’s own Superwoman.

Her work is not going unnoticed. She has earned a special commendation in the Mail & Guardian’s Investing in the Future Awards, which rewards companies, NGOs and individuals for their efforts to change society. Makoni was recognised in the category Drivers of Change -- Civil Society. Makoni’s organisation rehabilitates survivors of girl-child sexual abuse and has been praised all over the world for saving numerous girls from forced marriages, prostitution and neglect.

Her activism has influenced the domestic violence law in the Zimbabwean Constitution, the Investing in the Future judges noted. In 1998 Makoni set out to be a voice for the voiceless: the girls she protects.
Nine years ago she started a girls’ club with nine girls. The club met regularly to share stories, ideas and problems and to find solace and solutions as a group. Today there are 500 girls’ clubs in 49 of Zim­babwe’s 58 districts, as well as the Girl Child Network, which helps 30 000 girls, raises community awareness and lobbies government.

“Our goal is to dismantle the link between culture and violence against the girls and enable them to take charge of their own destiny,” says Makoni. Makoni is a survivor of sexual abuse, which happened to her at the age of six. She grew up intent on breaking the silence and fighting discrimination and the oppression of girls, says one of her supporters, Zimbabwean child activist Ropafadzo Mapimhidze. Makoni admits her history played a big part in getting the network up and running. “I was raped at six by a certain man who unabashedly raped minor girls. I was orphaned at nine after the death of my mother from domestic violence. At the age of eight I pushed her to report the violence perpetrated by my father, but she put a finger to my mouth and said ‘shush’, meaning ‘quiet, you don’t say that in public’.”

Makoni vowed never to stay silent again. Mapimhidze said that before Makoni started her work, most of the neglect and sexual abuse cases in Zimbabwe were swept under the carpet, “especially when they involved high-profile people”. Through the network Makoni built three safe villages (also called empowerment villages) for highly vulnerable girls. More than 20 000 girls have been rescued from abuse, rehabilitated and counselled. Many of Makoni’s girls come from some of the poorest parts of Zimbabwe.

When children are rescued, Makoni’s organisation places them in schools to ensure they get an education. The network buys uniforms, pays school fees and feeds the girls to help them get back on their feet. Makoni is especially proud of those girls who have earned bursaries to study abroad. “All you need to do is visit these shelters and see the wonderful work that is being done,” says Mapimhidze. “There is no doubt that Makoni is Zimbabwe’s pride.”

But Makoni’s work is not easy. Mapimhidze says she has a lot of enemies, some extremely powerful. Many have threatened the organisation but Makoni and her girls have flourished and not been deterred by the threats. Makoni tells how masked men with axes have tried to attack her house and the shelter. Despite the threats, Makoni has persisted -- and it has paid off. She is the recipient of several illustrious international awards, including the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of Children, a prize awarded by children.
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« Reply #6 on: February 29 2008 »

Unicef Helps Launch Campaign Against Surging Child Rape Rates

UN News Service (New York)

NEWS
28 February 2008
Posted to the web 29 February 2008

With the number of reported cases of children raped in Zimbabwe surging more than 40 per cent in the last three years, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has joined with the Government and religious groups in an awareness campaign to fight the scourge.

The Zimbabwean Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, the National Faith Based Council of Zimbabwe, and UNICEF yesterday launched their Stand Up and Speak Out campaign against child abuse, aiming to reach more than six million of the African country's citizens.

"The Stand Up and Speak Out information campaign will confront all types of abuse of children - sexual, physical, neglect and verbal," UNICEF's Representative in Zimbabwe, Festo Kavishe, said.

"If perpetrators are going to be stopped and if children are going to have the confidence to speak out against these evils, then families, communities and schools must concentrate on the value of children, and how they deserve our love and respect," he said.

In a press release, UNICEF said the information campaign is aimed at raising awareness of all forms of child abuse, the damage caused, how child abuse can be prevented, and importantly where to get help.

It said the campaign includes programming for radio, television, signage and print media, and well as training and materials for church sermons, Sunday school classes, and other religious activities.

Iconic Zimbabwean gospel singer Shingisai has written a campaign song, which will air on national radio and, hopefully, be sung in churches across the country.

Official police figures show that there were 2192 reported "rape cases involving children 16 years and below" in 2003. In 2006 this jumped to 3112, an increase of 42 per cent.

Copyright © 2008 UN News Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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