11 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Global Campaign to End Violence Against One Billion Women

A global campaign linked to Valentines' Day has been launched to help end violence against women, after statistics showed that one in every three women will suffer some form of violence in their lifetime.

The world has a total female population of about 3.5 billion, so at least one billion of them will be the victim of physical violence in their lives. The global campaign, called One Billion Rising, refers to that figure and hopes to involve everyone who cares to do something on Valentines' Day.

Activist Rumbidzai Dube, from the Research and Advocacy Unit and a legal advisor for the women's online portal HER ZIMBABWE, said Valentines' Day was chosen because it is a time to show love and compassion and these values should be present in relationships.

"Zimbabwe is a very patriarchal society and women are not treated very well. One of the challenges is violence, and political violence is also a serious problem around elections. It doesn't know about age, color, status or economic background. You can be a child, teenager or adult," Dube told SW Radio Africa.

She said the idea is for people to help the campaign in any way they can, by organizing events, building shelters for victims or even just writing a blog to highlight the crisis. Protecting a child or walking away from an abusive relationship is also a way to end violence.

According to Dube, the global campaign this year also involves dancing on Valentines' Day, because this is one way that women can reclaim ownership of their bodies and is an easy thing to do. Events with music and dancing are taking place worldwide on February 14th.

According to the Research and Advocacy Unit, 2,400 children were raped in Zimbabwe in the last 10 months. Dube said this is one of the reasons HER ZIMBABWE has partnered with the One Billion Rising campaign, which was the brainchild of Eve Ensler, an American activist and award-winning playwright.

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