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Kwekwe Women Call For Stiffer Penalties On Sexual Violence


By Locadia Mavhudzi


Women in Kwekwe have said the rise in sexual gender-based violence is a stumbling block towards women empowerment efforts by Government and its development partners.


Speaking during the commemoration of the 16 Days against Gender Based Violence which coincided with the launch of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Kwekwe Chapter, women said men in the small-scale mining sector popularly known as Makorokoza were haunting their lives.




A 29-year old vendor, Grace Ncube known in Kwekwe as Sister Doughnut said, “We are afraid of reporting cases of violence by makorokozas because we are threatened with killings.”


“We always visit their operating points to sell food because that is where we get lucrative business.



“However, when they do not have the money on an unfortunate day, they grab our foodstuffs and order us to leave the place.


“If one does not comply, violence begins.”



Another woman Abigail Matura said sexual violence was on the rise in the mining town and women could conduct any business that operates after 18:00 hours.



“We experienced a case of a woman running a food court takeaway business in Amaveni area who was gang raped by a group of makorokozas earlier this year when they entered her workplace around 7pm,” she said.



“They demanded food and money before they raped her when she had not complied to hand over her money with them.




“It is pathetic how women suffer at the hands of men when they are trying to emancipate themselves.”



Officially launching the Kwekwe Chapter Women’s coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) national Chairperson, Evernice Munando said communities should unite to end all forms of violence so as to realize development.




“Gender based violence must not be seen as a struggle for women only but a community menace that is impeding development,” she said.



“We all have a duty to play so that we can end violence.





“Stiffer penalties for sexual violence are needed so as to deter would be offenders.
“We call upon the Government to institute harmonious protection mechanisms for survivors of gender-based violence.”



Munando said the establishment of a WCoZ chapter in Kwekwe was a positive step in the fight against gender-based violence.



“I am optimistic that the women in this chapter will engage with various stakeholders in an effort to end violation of rights,” she said.




WCoZ is a non-partisan national network of women’s rights organizations and activists striving for the rights of women and girls in Zimbabwe.





Speaking during the launch Mbizo Legislator, Settlement Chikwinya said national budget share allocated to the ministry of Women affairs should be increased to address GBV from a prevention mechanism point.





“Social safety nets for survivors of GBV must be provided by the government,” he said.



“When a woman is subjected to GBV and the court gives a jail sentence, that woman deserves state protection while her husband is in jail.



“That would be ideal.”


Chikwinya called on police to increase surveillance in Kwekwe during the festive season.





Meanwhile, Musasa Project advocacy officer Rotina Mafume Musara said her organization was advocating for a minimum mandatory sentence of between 30 and 60 years for rape perpetrators, saying this would help deter would-be offenders.



Statistics in Zimbabwe show that at least 22 women are raped daily.





Research has shown that in Zimbabwe, one in three women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about one in four women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.




The situation has since worsened due to COVID-19 as socio-economic effects of the pandemic, coupled with living in the same space for a continued period of time increasing the number of GBV cases.





The mandatory lockdowns have seen many women and girls being trapped with their abusers and not knowing where to go or how to get help during the lockdown.


Robert Tapfumaneyi