By Makhosi Sibanda
United Nations Women says from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
Latest figures show that one in three women worldwide experience gender-based violence amid concerns that silence and stigma have allowed violence against women to escalate to endemic proportions.
“The time for change is here and now,” UN Women says.
In Zimbabwe, a statement released to mark the start of the 16 days of activism, Musasa Project said, there are strong indications that authorities are not doing enough to reduce the prevalence of the serious crime.
The organisation that works to advocate against GBV and to support victims of the crime, said this year they received 384 cases of rape of which less than 50 percent were satisfactorily attended to.
“Other national statistics highlight that a woman is raped every hour of the day,” read part of the statement.
While stakeholders have become more responsive to the dire situation being faced by women and girls, Musasa Project notes that some gaps still remain in as far as service provision is concerned.
”Factors such as the inadequacy of a supportive legal environment and the continued existence of retrogressive social norms that seem to favour perpetrators have further promoted the culture of silence,” says Musasa Project.
During the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, Musasa will launch its campaign in five cities namely Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo coupled with a parallel social media campaign under the hashtag #TouchNotMyBody.
This year, Zimbabwe will celebrate the 16 days of activism under the national theme, “Ending Sexual Harassment In The Workplace”.
In recent years, the voices of survivors and activists, through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, #BalanceTonPorc and others, have reached an upsurge that cannot be silenced any more.
Advocates appreciate that while the names and contexts may differ across geographic locations, women and girls everywhere are experiencing extensive abuse and their stories need to be brought to light.