2 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Laws Fail to Protect Women, Girl Child

RIGHTS of women and the girl child continue to be violated although the country has the best laws designed to address gender-based violence and equality, women activists have said.

The women activists said there was little action to match the laws available to protect women who were constantly abused in homes, schools and at workplaces.

Speaking at the launch of the Sadc Gender Protocol Barometer for 2013 in Harare recently, Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WcoZ) director, Virginia Muwanigwa said the problem emanated from failure by the country to implement legislation.

"We run the risk of not being taken seriously when we put in place good pieces of legislation but fail to implement them," she said.

The laws include the Domestic Violence Act, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (Cedaw) and the Legal Age of Majority Act.

Muwanigwa said Zimbabwe was trailing behind the expected regional targets largely because the legislation was not being translated into action.

"Our challenge in Zimbabwe is not so much lack of good policies or lack of good instruments. I think up until we adopted the Constitution, we addressed the only problem we had as far as frameworks was concerned. Implementation is a challenge," said Muwanigwa.

The 2011 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey says gender based violence (GBV) has become a widespread problem. For example, 80% of the murder victims in Zimbabwe in 2009 were women and girls.

It is estimated that one-third of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced physical violence at some point in their lives and the majority experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.

The Sadc barometer, a tool that is used to measure progress in addressing gender disparities, says Zimbabwe has been slow in enacting gender laws.

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