"Address the perpetrator; Address traditional cultures!" - JOMIC Chairpersons

The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) Co-chairs called for civil society organisations including women's groups to address perpetrators of Gender Based Violence (GBV) as a strategy to end sexual violence against women and girls.


Addressing members of civil society,, diplomats, traditional leaders and government officials at a Women and Peace Conference hosted by Musasa Project at Wild Geese in Harare from the 29th - 30th of November 2012, the JOMIC Co-chairs also urged traditional chiefs to support the campaign against Gender Based Violence in homes and communities.


JOMIC Co-chairperson, Honourable Tabitha Khumalo recommended that the issues of sexual violence should also be addressed to the perpetrators of violence if progress towards the elimination of violence against women is to be made.   She challenged participants at the Women and Peace Conference to take their issues to the streets so as to amplify their voices.


"We are telling these stories to ourselves; we must take them to Africa Unity Square and address the perpetrator. Gone are the days when the issue of rape was taboo €, said Khumalo.


Khumalo commended Zimbabwe's gender sensitive laws, though she indicated that the greatest challenge was silence on the demand for use and implementation of the laws and policies by the people. She shared similar experiences from Kenya and Rwanda on how issues to do with violence are discussed while isolating sexual violence against women and girls.


"In the cases of the Kenya and Rwanda, many women were raped but the attitude was that rape is normal and when you are raped do not tell, € said Khumalo.


Hon Khumalo also expressed disappointment at the continued use of traditional culture in muzzling the voices of sexual violence victims. She added that sexual victimisation is often shrouded by social myths and is continuously perpetuated by cultural practices.


"Time has come, for the truth to be told and we have to do away with cultural norms that violate our rights as women, € added Khumalo.


JOMIC Co-chairperson, Honourable Oppah Muchinguri concurred with Hon Khumalo, adding that Zimbabwe has enabling legislation but no resources for its implementation. She also shared how issues of perception and culture disadvantaged women especially during the land reform program.


"The women who were in the land reform committee were reduced to only serve tea and pray during the meetings. In the end we were not properly represented and did not acquire the land, € said Muchinguri.


She also added that in order to address the issues of culture, women should also play a proactive role.


"We are mothers, it is the responsibility of a  mother to socialise her children into the community. The challenges that our girls face in this world are that sometimes we don't impart life skills in them so that they have the confidence necessary in life. €


"Traditions are hard to die, and culture should not remain in the hands of our traditional chiefs. We should interrogate cultural practices that violate human rights and influence our traditional leaders, € added Muchinguri.


Ms Ellen Shiriyedenga who was standing in for Honourable Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga also urged women to take the stand to discuss issues of sexual violence freely and address the unequal power relations between men and women.

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