As we wind up 2022, this issue of the newsletter is primarily dedicated to the work that the Women and Law in Southern Africa - Zimbabwe carried out during the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

Government geared towards scaling up GBV prevention programmes

Women and Law in Southern Africa - Zimbabwe (WLSA) and its key stakeholders and partners joined the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development at the National launch of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence celebrations in Mutawatawa, Mashonaland East Province.

The 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an annual campaign that runs from the 25th of November until the 10th of December. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the negative impacts of gender-based violence on women and girls.

To ensure that justice is equitably accessed, claimed and enjoyed by women and girls, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), at the National Launch of the 16 days of Activism in Mutawatawa, offered free legal aid services to victims of various forms of gender-based violence through its mobile legal aid clinic. A total of 406 people were assisted, consisting of 308 women and 118 men. Cases received at the legal aid clinic included Rape, Maintenance, Indecent Assault and Divorce, which were supported through legal advice, counselling, and drafting court papers.

Speaking at the National Launch of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Mutawatawa, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Dr Sithembiso Nyoni stated, "As we reflect on this year's theme, we are geared towards scaling up prevention programmes that call for participation of each one of us to ensure protection through efficient, comprehensive services. Our aim is to have a Zimbabwean society free from Gender-Based Violence".

Scenes at the National Launch of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender based Violence celebration

Churches call for mediation to help end Gender-Based Violence.

Women and Law in Southern Africa - Zimbabwe (WLSA ), in collaboration with the Gender and Faith network, commemorated the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence through a candle-lighting ceremony event. The candle-lighting ceremony was attended by 200 people consisting of 160 women and 40 men from various Church denominations.

Civil Society Organisations and churches under the Gender and Faith Network banner gathered at the Anglican cathedral in Harare to come up with mediation that can help end gender-based violence and sexual harassment towards women and girls.

WLSA gave a presentation on the new Marriages Act covering aspects such as types of marriages in Zimbabwe, Solemnization of marriages and the minimum age of marriage.

A member from the Apostolic Sect echoed that “to end child marriage, the perception of the role of women in society needs to change against the perception of girls only as future mothers”.

Speaking at the candle-lighting ceremony, Pastor Trevor Masuku of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe stated that, “Churches have a role to play in encouraging society to be morally upright through good teachings that discourage Gender-Based Violence in families.”

Speaking at the same event, Rev Dr Moyo of the Lutheran Church said that Gender-Based violence is a global pandemic, and many cases are going unreported in the countries' remote areas.

The Network pledged to stand for zero tolerance to Gender Based Violence and affirmed their commitments to prevent and respond to all forms of Gender Based Violence perpetrated against women and girls.

Scenes at the Candle Lighting Ceremony event in Harare

Junior Parliamentarians expressed displeasure over the spike in cases of child sexual abuse.

WLSA supported the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe, and Junior Council of Zimbabwe in a march to commemorate 16 days of Activism in response to the spike in cases of child sexual abuse. The march was joined by senior Members of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Civil Society Organisations, the Youth Council and other Government Institutions.

The march was attended by 28 girls and 22 boys who are members of the Junior Parliament and the Junior Council. The purpose of the march was to raise awareness on the cases of child sexual abuse, which resulted in girls as young as 8 falling pregnant in various districts across the country. The march was also aimed to draw the attention of the authorities to deal with cases of child abuse in order to address Violence Against Women and Girls.

Pursuant to the march, the Parliament of Zimbabwe hosted a dialogue session on Ending Gender-Based Violence especially on adolescent girls and young women. Speaking at the dialogue session, Child President, H.E. Mr. U. Nyoni stated that "Gender-based violence is a pothole stopping us from achieving our sustainable development goals. We need more funds for GBV services & we need to empower children so that they can open up"

Speaking at the same event ,WLSA Executive Director Mrs Fadzai Traquino stated that " We want a database for offenders and perpetrators of GBV so that we can track and know where they are and what they are doing. Are they not perpetrating GBV on girls, women and children in general, when they are set free "

The young MPs and councillors denouncing Gender-Based Violence in Harare

Scenes at the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus dialogue session in commemoration of the 16 days of activism in Harare

Obstetric fistula prevalent in the contexts of early, child, and forced marriage

WLSA in partnership with Amnesty International Zimbabwe, hosted a stakeholder's dialogue on GBV, early and forced marriages, and access to health care.

The purpose of the dialogue was to unpack the intersectionality between child marriages, sexual reproductive health rights issues, and obstetric fistula.

The dialogue session was attended by officials from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Police Victim Friendly Unit and community members. A total of 64 people consisting of 53 females and 11 males attended the stakeholder’s dialogue

Speaking at the stakeholder dialogue session, Dr Takura kanonge stated "that obstetric fistula is prevalent in contexts of early, child, and forced marriage, and the trauma is worsened by the lack of information about the causes and treatment of the condition and ongoing difficulties accessing post-natal health services and treatment for maternal injuries."

Scenes at the WLSA and Amnesty Zimbabwe stakeholder’s dialogue session in commemoration of the 16 days of activism in Harare

Six months pregnant women breaks silence on abuse

A 34-year-old woman has broken her silence on the abuse she had to endure in her marriage while pregnant. The abuse had been going on for over two years until Panashe (not her real name) decided to put an end to the traumatic experience.

Panashe ran away from their matrimonial home, traumatised and in fear of a miscarriage.

Panashe sought refuge at Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) help desk covered with bruises and a swollen face from her husband’s beatings.

Panashe reported that "I am six months pregnant, but he is beating me and abusing me emotionally. I had to run from our matrimonial home because I am now traumatised and afraid that I might have a miscarriage,”

WLSA's legal team quickly responded and facilitated the arrest of her husband, who is a high-profile politician. Panashe was assisted in seeking a protection order through the Harare Civil Court, which was granted on the 5th of December, 2022, pending an assault trial.

Sign up to our mailing list for more updates