Let’s orange the world and help eradicate violence against women.

TOO EMBARRASSED TO SHARE, BUT BECAUSE I CARE WILL SHARE IT INSTEAD!!

Don’t people have a decency to at least pretend like they adhere to certain commemorations which speak directly to the woman? It’s not like we are asking for something which may go beyond a month of sustaining this pretense. Here I am sitting in a full kombi, the usual ‘four- four formation’. Just before my eyes, I witness a sliding door operator(hwindi) insulting a woman for standing her ground and frankly not accepting coins as her change after paying her bus fare. I did not interfere  and try to play  hero in someone else’s fight due to fear of being left stranded in the middle of nowhere. Was it her fight entirely?

By Duduzile Mathema| Nust-Zw | @MathemaDuduzile

I quiver in anger at the thought of my selfish act at the time, but what could I have done?? It’s not like I would have been dropped off and I would have called my notorious brother to settle the score with the conductor on my behalf. At this moment and time as I reflect, I come to a realisation that all this transpired during the 16 days of activism against gender based violence. Where were the other women such as myself? As I hinted on our pretence earlier on,  I just wish that if only one of us, ‘women’, could have had the courage to speak for that lady maybe she would not have left the Kombi thinking that she is just a mere non-entity.

Here I am thinking that when women’s rights are being violated especially during these 16 days against gender based violence, it is all narrowed down to the domestic violence where the man is always the villain. The one to brutally bash the wife for not conforming to the duties which are expected of her. At heart, I am an activist who learnt a lesson today, that I hardly understand the concept of gender based violence. Embarrassing as it may sound, I desire for my fellow women at large to be aware of men or other women who sought to hurt them in ways which may go against the objectives of the 16 days of Activism against Gender Based violence.

According to the Zimbabwe Demography Health Survey (ZDHS) of 2015 34.8% of women are reported to have experienced violence in their lifetime. The ZDHS explains that violence of women is bound to happen regardless of geographical location, status, level of education and time. In as much as women who have received tertiary education are exonerated from the list of the abused, ZDHS of 2015 affirms that 1 in every 5 women is a victim even if she may be educated.

From 25 November 2016, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women, to 10 December 2016, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender based Violence Campaign is a time to incite action to end violence against women and girls around the world.  “Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls”  is the theme for this year’s campaign. With education being at the core of this year’s campaign, women and children should not suffer any deprivation in terms of receiving education about the various forms of gender based violence which is usually inflicted on women. In the 2016 Action Kit the aspect of education has been disintegrated into the following criteria: non-discrimination and equality, right to information, best interest of the child, academic freedom, advanced levels of education, human rights education, technical and  vocational education, free and compulsory basic level education to all, freedom to choose and establish academic institutions.

The narration which came up at the beginning shows how women can suffer at the hands of the general community and yet nothing is done. The type of abuse that this woman was exposed to is psychological abuse. She let the conductor insult her whilst the majority of the women in the kombi did nothing to save the victim. What does it reflect on us as women?

However, in as much women are victims of gender based violence, it is necessary to make an observation of the fact that societal structures have a role to play in moulding such behaviours. Patriarchy is still prevalent within our society and women are considered as inferior beings as compared to men. Therefore, from the anecdote highlighted earlier, the victim may have tried to defend her actions but because she was having exchange of words with a man, she somehow lost the argument.

People have adopted a mentality of being self-absorbed in their own affairs at the expense of someone in dire need of assistance. When the conductor was in his moment of glory whilst humiliating this woman,none of the women in the kombi bothered to make the woman’s issue their own. Some continued in their conversations as though all was normal.

Putting the issue to rest, there are a few recommendations that I propose as a way of helping bring a reduction to the escalating figures of violence in Zimbabwe. Since I witnessed an act of abuse in a kombi, I believe that with all things being normal there is need for ALL taxis to have call lines where victims can be able to report cases of abuse so that they may be dealt with. During this time of the year whereby gender based violence is brewing in people’s kitchens, advocacy levels should be increased. Social media can be used for the greater good to push the message about gender based violence. Pastors in churches can further this campaign through speaking about it in their various denominations. Community dialogue could be heightened so that people can receive education about gender based violence.

Let’s orange it and help eradicate gender based violence.

Duduzile Michelle Zinzi Mathema is a Part 3 Student from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) studying Journalism and Media Studies.

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