Wednesday, 11 December 2013 04:25

 Civil society commemorates Human Rights Day

Harare – MORE than 500 of human rights activists, belonging to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe (ADZT) on Friday, December 6 commemorated the International Human Rights Day in Harare.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 04:18

Machisa wins Director of the Year award

THE Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Chairperson, Okay Machisa, who is the director of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights), has won the prestigious 2013 Director of the Year Award

 

BORN on 30 September 1970 in Chirimhanzu as a last child in a family of 10

Harare – GENDER issues advocacy group, Katswe Sisterhood, has resorted to targeting the motoring public

Harare – A Ugandan judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Justice Julia Sebutinde said it would be a shame if the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government succumbed

Marondera – THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) hosted the 2013 edition of the International Human Rights Day secondary schools music choir competition

Harare – A UGANDAN judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Justice Julia Sebutinde, during a recent visit to Zimbabwe graced a discussion forum held in Harare

THE international commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence started on Monday, November 25, with civil society organisations in Zimbabwe highlighting their main messages for this year’s campaign.

 

The 16-day campaign every year begins on the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, and ends on the International Human Rights Day on December 10.

 

The theme for the 2013 campaign, “From peace in the home to peace in the World: Let’s end militarism against women,” focuses on violence perpetrated by State actors, and domestic violence and the role of small arms.

 

This year’s campaign comes against the background of serious women’s rights violations notably, the brutal assault on several women in August by riot police, after the women staged a demonstration against Hwange Colliery for not paying their husbands for several months, in a classic case of state-sanctioned violence against women.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) Communications Officer Kumbirai Mafunda said the state remained a violator against women in many ways.

“We have seen the state’s penchant and appetite to continue violating the rights of female human rights defenders through persecution and prosecution as shown by suppression of women protesters,” Mafunda said.

 

Mafunda referred to the case of the violent crackdown on Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) peaceful marches by riot police since 2010, a case that the ZLHR has taken to the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights (ACHRP).

“We remain worried by the arrest and detention of breast feeding mothers. These are issues that should not be happening in a Zimbabwe that we yearn for,” Mafunda added.

 

Charity Katerere of Nyanga together with her toddler where recently arrested barely two months after a similar case in Highfields, despite the fact that the High Court in 2007 strongly condemned the jailing of mothers with their young children after a case involving a toddler, Nigel Mutemagawu and his mother.

 

Netty Musanhu, the director of Msasa Project said, although violence perpetrated against women by state actors had remained significant over the past years, most of the gender-based violence occurred in the home.

“Deriving from this year’s theme, we are condemning rape and sexual violence against women and girls,” Musanhu said.

“We have researches that show that one in every three girls is raped before reaching 18 years of age.

“If you remove the state actors, you still have very high levels of rape. If you look at the statistics most of the rape is happening in the home.

“We need to look at the underlying causes of rape. We have even seen rape in the churches, where young girls are also being married off at the age of 13.”

 

Msasa Project on Thurday, November 21, in collaboration with Women’s Trust hosted an engagement platform with the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, and will on Thursday, November 28, stage a march in Harare.

 

The march will start at the Harare Gardens, where the Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development minister, Oppah Muchinguri, the British Ambassador, Deborah Bronnert, and Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) have been invited to grace the occasion.

 

Female Students Network (FSN) Coordinator Evernice Munando encouraged men, who suffer from gender-based violence to come up in the open during the 16 days of campaign against gender-based violence.

“During this year’s 16 days of activism, we are saying men who are abused should also come out and speak about violations against them because the Domestic Violence Act is for everyone,” Munando said.

“We have realized that men are not only perpetrators, they are also victims and they should understand what domestic violence is.

 

Munando’s organisation has already carried out a march dubbed “Walk a mile in her shoes” in Harare on November 23, where men were encouraged to walk in high heeled shoes, which Munando said “got them to feel the pain of violence, but also encouraged them to report abuses against themselves.”

 

Talent Jumo of Katse Sistahood said new technological developments were being manipulated to abuse women.

 

Particularly, she said male partners violently react when they see unusual contacts in cell phones and allegedly breached women’s privacy and trust when they leak videotapes of intimate moments.

“Imagine the emotional violence that women can suffer when someone is holding them at ransom,” Jumo said.

“We need as young people to talk about violence in our relationships and how new technology is causing breach of privacy.

“Even some newspapers run stories that are centered on this clear breach of privacy, or insensitive stories like one which described a Midlands State University female student who was gang raped as ‘beer loving’ as if she deserved her harrowing treatment.”

TSHOLOTSHO – THE Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT) held a community theatre forum aimed at spreading awareness of the new Constitution in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province on Saturday, November 23.

 

The community meeting was held at Makhaza Shopping Centre in a bid by the organisation to extend awareness of the new Constitution (Amendment No.20), particularly people’s entitlements as enshrined in the expanded Bill of Rights, to the Tsholotsho community.

 

ADZT Director Mehluli Dube said the initiative was also aimed at lessening the knowledge and information drought in the remote area.

(ADZT Director Mehluli Dube)

No newspaper reaches this community and few have radio receivers,” Dube said from the Makhaza village under Chief Gampu. “Very little information is getting to these communities from the outside world.

“Artists are raising awareness among the marginalized and underserved groups.

“The project is based on marginalized communities awareness efforts, and the Bill of Rights.”

 

The new Constitution became fully operational in August, after the harmonized elections, and government is yet to align old laws, an earmarked 87 old Acts to the new Charter.

 

The Constitution in Section 7 mandates the State to spearhead initiatives to raise public awareness of the document to citizens, although government has not lined up initiatives for that purpose; civil society has already started its complementary role as outlined in Section 7 (c) as a way of sowing the seeds for constitutionalism.

 

The ADZT event had as its main attraction, a drama performance by Shaba theatre group, where it was also highlighted that the tragedy of human rights protection in the country was that those officials, who are mandated to protect peoples’ rights are sometimes reneging on their responsibility, and instead becoming violators.

 

According to Dube, the issues that were raised by the theatre performance were also of a socio-economic nature such as perceived marginalization of the rural area, and unavailability of information on development matters.

 

ADZT distributed 100 copies of the Constitution to the community as part of the awareness building effort, which is being carried out under an Artists Constitutional Awareness Raising among Marginalised and Underserved Groups (ACARMUG) initiative.

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