International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

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Women and Girls Deserve a Life Free from Violence!
Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) joins the world in commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign. This year’s theme is “ UNITE! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls”.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women marks the beginning of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence which run from the 25th of November to the 10th of December every year since 1981. The aim is to increase the public awareness of the adverse impacts of violence against women on one’s health and society and to reaffirm the commitment of working together inclusively.

In Zimbabwe, the major contributing factors to gender-based violence include patriarchy, societal and religious beliefs, politics, a culture of impunity that protects and shields perpetrators as well as the fact that some of the victims continue to suffer in silence due to limited knowledge of their constitutionally guaranteed rights and in some cases, an unresponsive and under-resourced legal system.


Women and girls have also not been spared by the deteriorating socio-economic conditions being witnessed in Zimbabwe. In some cases, gender based violence is related to poor service delivery and in drought-affected areas, women and girls are forced to walk long distances to collect water, facing an increased risk of sexual violence.

Women play a critical role in sustainable development. When they are educated and healthy, their families, communities and countries benefit. Yet Gender based violence undermines opportunities for women and denies them the ability to fully utilize their basic human rights. In Zimbabwe about 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence, and about 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual violence, since the age of 15, according to the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey.

The vulnerability of women and girls to GBV is heightened in the Zimbabwean multi-hazard humanitarian crisis, where violence and discrimination related to the emergency has also exacerbated pre-existing, persistent, gender and social inequalities, as well as traditional harmful socio-cultural practices. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the protection consequences of climate change and economic hardship.

Furthermore, the modification of daily routines forces them to spend long hours away from home, generating tensions within the household, and increasing intimate partner violence. Unbalanced power dynamics also exacerbate exposure to sexual exploitation and abuse, as women and girls increasingly resort to trading sex as a means of providing the most basic needs for their families.

The use of lobola (bride price) as an alternative income source is a documented practice in the current context, contributing to an increase in early marriage, while in areas where the apostolic faith sect is predominant, communities marry girls at younger ages in the misguided belief that they will somehow appease “spirits” causing drought and economic hardship.

Women and girls with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and are three times more prone to GBV and harmful practices. The impact of the crisis on the health system also causes decreasing availability of clinical management of rape services, affecting timely access to lifesaving support, particularly for those in remote areas.

ZimRights condemns all forms of violence against women and girls, which violate their human rights and dignity, and hinder their full participation in society. ZimRights calls on the government of Zimbabwe to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and the international human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, to prevent, protect, and prosecute violence against women and girls.

ZimRights also urges the government to allocate adequate resources and support to the civil society organizations and movements that work tirelessly to provide services and assistance to the survivors of violence, and to raise awareness and advocate for the elimination of violence against women and girls. ZimRights recognizes and appreciates the efforts and contributions of these organizations and movements, especially the women human rights defenders, who face multiple risks and challenges in their work.

ZimRights reaffirms its commitment to work with all stakeholders, including the government, the media, the private sector, the religious and traditional leaders, and the communities, to end violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe. ZimRights believes that violence against women and girls is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented and eliminated through collective action and investment.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, ZimRights stands in solidarity with the women and girls of Zimbabwe, and of the world, who are facing violence and oppression.




Issued by the ZimRights Information Department