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If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with woman

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The findings published in the report “Preying on the ‘Weaker’ Sex: Political Violence against Women in Zimbabwe”, produced by IDASA (An African Democracy Institute), the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) – November 2010 make for some disturbing reading.

  • More than half the women surveyed stated that they had been victims of violence, most commonly assault, threats, and torture. 14% of this group indicated that they had suffered some form of physical injury.
  • 2% of the women surveyed had been personally raped whilst 3% reported that a family member had been raped. Also 8% reported that the perpetrators violated women as a way of getting back at their husbands.
  • 45% of the women surveyed had witnessed violence against members of their families and a significant proportion of the women in the survey (56%) reported that they had witnessed violence in their communities. There were also allegations of murder of family members from 11% of the women.
  • Of survey respondents who failed to seek medical attention after being on the receiving end of an act of violence, 9% reported that there were no medical facilities within the vicinity, 9% stated that the facilities were too far away and 31% stated that the available medical facilities were too expensive.
  • Only 23% of those that reported experiencing political violence reported the matter to the police. Of those that did not report, the reason given by 67% was fear of reprisals whilst 31% did not because the police were involved in the violence.
  • 74% of women victims reported that they had no knowledge of where to go for legal assistance and 13% said they could not afford the costs involved for litigation.

As 44% of respondent’s indicated, women are indeed affected differently by political violence. Some reported that this was because of being physically weaker while others attributed this to women’s inability to go into hiding due to their family responsibilities.  What is certain is that Zimbabwe’s women, like millions of others around the world, exist in a cruel reality where the words of Mahatma Gandhi ring true:

“To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”

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