Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

365 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

TOP del.icio.us

This is one of my favourite times of year. No, not the upcoming festive season, I mean 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. For these two weeks, the reality of the sexual violence that women and girls experience every day of the year is taken seriously and reflected in newspapers and by organisations.

Groups like Amnesty International and Take Back the Tech are running special campaigns to mark the event.

Amnesty International reports that at least 1 in 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. In Zimbabwe, discussion of the Domestic Violence Bill has made many of us more aware of the brutality many women endure in their own homes. Childline received more than 34,000 calls between January – September this year. 70 percent of these calls were related to sexual abuse of children.

Just this week, as WOZA took to the streets to mark International Human Rights Defender’s Day, 36 members of WOZA, including six mothers and babies, were arrested in Bulawayo. These 36 were among the 200 who had assembled peacefully. The police ruthlessly attacked the women, and over 25 needed medical attention for injuries incurred from baton sticks, and from trampling when the crowd tried to escape the police assault.

And it’s not over yet. I’ve just received the following email from WOZA

Threat to Jenni Williams

The 36 WOZA/MOZA members arrested yesterday remain in police custody. It has emerged that there have been threats to separate Jenni Williams from the rest of the group in order to severely beat her or worse. WOZA’s lawyer has also been threatened with arrest,for “interfering with the course of justice” whilst trying to attend to her clients. You are requested to call Bulawayo Central Police Station and let them know that the world is watching and will not tolerate further assaults on WOZA members. Their numbers are +263 9 72515, 61706, 63061, 69860.

Violence against women takes all forms – it happens in the home, in the village, in town, at work, at school, and on the street. We should have 365 days of activism, not just 16. We should be seeing this sort of press coverage and mobilisation everyday.

It’s time that we finally acknowledge just how pervasive violence against women really is.

Comments are closed.