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16 Days of Activism: is an HIV-free Zimbabwe possible?

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 by Varaidzo Tagwireyi

Hosted by Def Zee (Definitely Zimbabwean) at the US Embassy’s Public affairs section, was a discussion entitled The Small House Saga. The team from Def Zee showed 2 video clips, one of an interview with a young woman who is currently a small house (having a committed relationship with a married man), and a prostitute from the Avenues area of Harare.

Small houses, are a growing phenomenon and are very much an ‘officially’ unofficial part of societal and family structures. It is not to say that this is a new practice. Men have been having long-term extra-marital affairs, even having families, since time immemorial. The majority of men at the event thought that having a small house was okay. The small house interviewed explained that she was faithful to her man and that she trusted that he was faithful too and that they therefore do not use condoms. The truth of the matter is that many people are not faithful, and since couples tend not to protect themselves during sex when in these types of relationships than in casual sexual encounters, small houses may be loopholes that continue to spread HIV.

The role of prostitution in the spread of HIV/AIDS was also discussed. The prostitute interviewed revealed that over 75% of the men who paid for sex with her did not want to use a condom, and that the vast majority of her clients were indeed married men. Nearly half the audience was in favour of legalizing prostitution in order that the country can benefit from the tax revenue and that the practice may be monitored and regulated for the safety of all involved. The reasons women turned to this ‘profession’ were also explored, with poverty being identified as the chief reason. Clearly, the issues of small houses and prostitution are multi-faceted and require careful consideration, but it is encouraging to see youth talking about such issues in the hope of curbing the spread of HIV. Let me leave you with a question that was asked at yesterday’s discussion: In light of the prevalence of small houses and prostitution, do you think that an HIV/AIDS-free generation is achievable in Zimbabwe?

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Let peace be here

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Varaidzo Tagwireyi

[Chiedza, Chiedza
Chiedza, Chiedza]
Let peace be here
Let love be here
Love of God
Love of one another
And love of life itself
Let us remember that so many poles
Built a hut, built a school
Let’s work together
To make our home successful.

Chiedza Childcare Center 10th Anniversary

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Varaidzo Tagwireyi

On Thursday 24th November, Chiedza Childcare Center held celebrations for their 10th anniversary of service, at their Ardbennie premises. Brightly dressed drum majorettes, who danced in celebration, and aptly set the mood for the festivities, greeted attendees.

Co-founder David Sheehan gave the welcoming remarks, whilst caregivers, a representative of the children, a representative from the Australian Embassy and representatives of the Qantas cabin crew (who have supported the organization from its conception), made speeches.

The caregiver’s choir and the children, through drama, poetry and traditional dance, provided entertainment during the celebrations.

Certificates of appreciation were handed out to members of the original board of directors, and to the many volunteers who have contributed to the many programmes Chiedza conduct, helping to improve the situation of the children. The anniversary was then concluded with a special tree-planting ceremony. Various staff members gave visitors a tour around the center’s buildings, and showcased some of the fund-raising projects the children are involved in.

16 Days of Activism: Gender Based Violence and the media

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Varaidzo Tagwireyi

In the past few months there seems to have been a drastic increase in media reports on gender-based violence with all manner of atrocities coming to light. We have heard reports of women being stabbed with kitchen knives, burnt with irons, and hacked with machetes.  It would seem that media coverage on GBV is on the rise. However, the media is not giving a comprehensive and gender-sensitive picture of GBV, but a sensationalized one. Pat Made of Genderlinks observed that most reporting on the issue is featured in the ‘Courts and Crime’ section of newspapers and that the issue of GBV is coming to the news agendas as events “and not as an issue that’s having a negative impact on the economic, social, and political fabric of our society.” She proceeded to say that the media “is not reporting it as a national issue, nor is it going further to put it into the context of the policy framework, and what needs to be done, in terms of the rights of women and girls. We don’t get that kind of coverage of reporting, which is more informed and helps us as citizens to be able to get a different kind of perception and conceptual way of dealing with the issue.”

Last year, Genderlinks, conducted a Gender and Media Progress Study for Zimbabwe to monitor how the different media in the country reported on and handled issues of gender. The study also included a detailed analysis of media coverage of gender-based violence in 2010, revealing that the proportion of stories on GBV were only 3% of total stories in the media in Zimbabwe, while the figures for the SADC region were not much better, at 4%. It will be interesting to see what the findings for this year’s study will reveal.

Local hand made wildlife

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Monday, November 28th, 2011 by Varaidzo Tagwireyi

Rooneys, the hiring specialists, are one of the many companies helping to keep Harare beautiful. This is a photograph of the traffic circle that they’re helping to maintain in Newlands. The giraffe are made by local artists.

Rape is Rape

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Thursday, November 24th, 2011 by Varaidzo Tagwireyi

I have grown tired of hearing about these female rapists, and all the terrible things they have done to their poor victims. While it is sad that these men were violated and degraded in such a manner, I am struggling to understand why their rape seems to have taken precedence over all other rape cases. Countless male rapists are getting away with violating minors but we can rest assured that all these female rapists will be caught, and brought to justice.

For one thing, there has been more than adequate, (or necessary), media coverage of the atrocities, and it seems the police’s hard work on the case has paid off, as 3 of the offenders have now been apprehended, charged with 17 counts of aggravated indecent assault and released on $300 bail each. It is my hope that in the future that the police will be as swift with men who rape children because some of these monsters are getting away scot-free!

Several newspaper articles have described the large crowds that gathered outside the Gweru Police Station, wanting to beat the female rapists held there. Why is the same sense of outrage not shown when we hear of men raping minors and other vulnerable members of society? I read with outrage about a Masvingo man who allegedly raped his 18-year-old daughter at least 12 times, and was last month released on $100 bail. A $100 bail, for a man who lives with his victim? Are they crazy? Why, also, was this story only reported on once? If stories like this received even half the publicity that the female rapists have received, maybe the “playing field” would be a little more even. I was also surprised when the names and photos of the 3 female rapists were released. When was the last time we ever saw any one of the monsters that desecrate the bodies of minors photographed? Rape is rape, let’s treat all offenders the same! If we are now going to start photographing these despicable people, let’s take photos of them all!

Perhaps the manner in which this case has been handled and reported on can be a template for all incidences of this form of violence, especially against children.