Zimbabwe Gender Commission lobbies for anti-sexual-harassment law

By Precious Moyo

THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) is lobbying for a national law that protects citizens especially women and girls against sexual harassment and gender based violence.

There is no a specific law or legal framework that speaks directly to sexual harassment in Zimbabwe besides the labour act and public service act that is used at work places.

The acts only state that sexual harassment is illegal but does not explicitly explain on the subject.

Addressing the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) staff and students during a public lecture on sexual harassment yesterday, ZGC Legal and Investigations Manager Ms Delis Mazambani said the Labour Act and Public Service act is elitist as it only caters for citizens in work place settings while no law addresses sexual harassment faced by those in politics and in public spheres.

“As a commission we are lobbying for a national law or policy that will speak against sexual harassment on behalf of those in the public sphere and politics for instance. Sexual harassment is not only at work places but everywhere even in the streets,” she said.

Ms Mazambani said the commission drafted principles of the legal framework and submitted it with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises.

“Sexual harassment is not just a labour issue but we need a legal framework that speaks explicitly to` sexual harassment. We’ve come up with principles of anti sexual harassment so we submitted it to the Ministry of Women Affairs to submit to the parliament on our behalf,” she said.

Ms Mazambani said the commission does not have a direct representative in parliament hence the proposal for law has to be submitted on its behalf by the Ministry of Women affairs.

She noted that it is a long process that will take parliament to decide and pass into law.

She highlighted that stakeholders including students should lobby for the law to convince government that it is helpful to have such a law.

Ms Mazambani encouraged tertiary institutions to abide to the policies on sexual harassment and GBV noting that some students may not be aware of the policies and suffer in silence.

She said such public lectures should not be once off events for they seek to empower students and staff on sexual harassment issues.

The commission said it is looking forward to address first years upon orientation.

Ms Mazambani said ZGC, an independent board has a solid mechanism to deal with all forms of GBV including sexual harassment.

“The mechanism is designed to monitor, receive, investigate, research, advise, recommend remedy and create awareness on all forms of GBV,” she said.

The ZGC is an independent constitutional body established in terms of section 245 of the constitution of Zimbabwe.

The commission was established to promote and protect gender equality through public education, research, investigations and monitoring.

We acknowledge the gap