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Wednesday 9 March 2011

POLICE QUIZZ ZIMBABWE LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (ZLHR) EMPLOYEES, DISRUPT IWD COMMEMORATIONS

Police in Bulawayo on Tuesday 8 March 2011 quizzed two employees of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) for organising commemorations to mark International Women’s Day.

Police from Luveve Police Station in the high density suburb of Luveve first quizzed Prisca Dube, the programmes assistant for ZLHR’s Matabeleland Satellite Office before summoning Lizwe Jamela, the senior projects lawyer to the police station.

At the police station, the police quizzed the two about the commemorations.

The police told Jamela and Dube that the “obtaining environment” doesn’t allow for them to hold such commemorations as they could be hijacked by some unruly elements who could turn them into violent protests.

The police told the ZLHR employees to reschedule their commemorations to a later date when the environment permits.

About 27 anti-riot police who were in two truckloads dispersed participants, who had gathered at Luveve Baptist Church for the International Women’s Day festivities.

ZLHR had organised commemorations at Luveve Baptists Church in the high density suburb to mark International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on 8 March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

The ZLHR employees were advised that Zimbabwe was liberated as a result of the shedding of blood and that this country is not a “property” of the human rights organisation.

Meanwhile, police on Tuesday 8 March 2011 arrested 16 women at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Bulawayo offices and briefly detained them at the Bulawayo Central Police Station.

The women were later released after the intervention of the ZCTU Paralegal Officer. The women were arrested despite furnishing the police with a court order obtained by ZLHR lawyers on Monday 7 March 2011, allowing the ZCTU to stage a peaceful march in the city to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

MISA PRESS RELEASE - Zimbabwe statement on International Women's Day

Objectification and denigration of women in the media must stop

MISA-Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day (IWD) today.

The 2011 United Nations (UN) theme for 2011 is, Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.

Guided by the SADC Gender protocols notably Articles 29-31 which relate to the media, information and communications, MISA-Zimbabwe takes opportunity of this day to challenge the continued ‘objectification’ of women by the media and certain sections of Zimbabwe’s advertising industry.

To objectify someone, is to reduce someone exclusively to the level of an object. In Zimbabwe it is women that are mostly objectified in the media. The images that appear in several adverts tend to portray women as physical objects that should simply be admired if not savoured. Such images negatively project women as having no other substantive attributes outside their physical and bodily make-up.

This portrayal of women totally ignores and seems oblivious to the fact that women are also equal subjective beings with independent thoughts, consciences and emotions.

A classical example of the objectification of women is Delta Beverages’ Redds cider advertisement placed in The Standard weekly edition of 6-12 March 2011.

The advert shows the posteriors of four women (they are definitely women as evidenced by their physique and manicured fingers) clad in tight fitting jeans. They are each holding a bottle of Redds smacked on their posteriors. The advert reads: Have great fun.

MISA-Zimbabwe condemns such portrayal of women in the media as reinforcing medieval stereotypes that objectify women. The Redds advert is denigrating as it equates women’s posteriors to objects of ‘great fun’ to be enjoyed with a Redds drink!

MISA-Zimbabwe urges Delta Beverages to drop the advert and apologise to readers and the generality of Zimbabwean women. Ironically, the advert in question is flighted in a supplement to commemorate International Women’s Day!

Although MISA-Zimbabwe cites Delta Beverages’ Redds advert, this negative portrayal of women is not unique to Zimbabwe, but is prevalent throughout the global advertising industry.

MISA-Zimbabwe also notes with great concern the violation of the right to privacy and human dignity in some of the stories carried by the two Zimpapers tabloids H-Metro and B-Metro, especially where it concerns women who are by and large the subjects and sources of the stories.

MISA-Zimbabwe therefore urges the two tabloids to mainstream gender balance in an accurate, fair and balanced manner in their reportage of socio-economic issues.

Friday 5 March 2010

Dossier of Claims: Zimbabwe

RATIFY! Although Zimbabwe has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), it has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.

RESPECT! The Coalition of the Campaign remains particularly concerned by the following violations of women’s human rights in Zimbabwe: the persistence of discriminatory laws; discrimination within the family; violence against women; obstacles to access to employment; under-representation in political life; and inadequate access to health services.

Some positive developments…

The Coalition of the Campaign acknowledges the recent adoption of several laws and policies aimed at improving respect for women’s rights, including:

• The adoption of a provision within the Constitution (amended in 2005) prohibiting laws that discriminate on the basis of sex (s. 23). However, a new Constitution is currently under discussion.

• The prohibition of marital rape within the Criminal Law Act (Codification and Reform) 2006 (s.68(a)) marital rape.

• The adoption of the Domestic Violence Act 2007, which includes prohibition of any cultural or customary rites and practices that discriminate against women such as female genital mutilation, child marriages or forced marriages.

• The ratification in 2008 of the Maputo Protocol and the South African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development.

DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE PERSIST

In Law

Zimbabwe has a hybrid legal system composed of statutory and customary law. Whilst statutory law tends to conform to CEDAW, discriminatory customary laws continue to apply, especially in rural areas.

The law recognises three types of marriage: civil marriage, registered customary marriage and unregistered customary marriage. The predominance of registered and unregistered customary marriages contributes to the vulnerability of women within the family:

• Early and forced marriages under customary law are widespread. In 2004, the United Nations estimated that 23% of girls between 15 and 19 years were married, divorced or widowed.

• Although polygamy is prohibited under statutory law, it is authorised under customary law and continues to be practised in rural areas.

• Whilst civil marriage grants spouses equal rights to parental authority, under customary marriage men have the right to custody of children.

• The custom of the bride price (lobola), which is authorised under statutory law, also contributes to women’s vulnerability within the family.

• Under the rules of customary marriage, widows cannot inherit their husband’s property and daughters can inherit from their father only if there are no sons.

IN PRACTICE

Violence

Despite the adoption of legislation, including the Domestic Violence Act 2007 and reforms to the Criminal Law Act in 2006, violence against women, particularly domestic violence, remains widespread and perpetrators continue to benefit from impunity. The lack of training of law enforcement personnel, the lack of awareness of women’s human rights, the fear of social stigma and reprisal contribute to the ineffectiveness of such laws. Since the criminalisation of marital rape, only one case of marital raped has been tried in court.

Obstacles to access to employment and decision-making positions

Women in Zimbabwe generally have lower incomes and less job security than men. Most women are employed in the agriculture, forestry, farming industries and the domestic sector, in which salaries tend to be low. Women remain underrepresented in decision-making positions. Despite ratification of the South African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development, which sets a target of 50% representation of women in all decisionmaking bodies by 2015, women are poorly represented in the government of national union of Zimbabwe. Only 4 women were nominated amongst the 35 members of the new government. Following the 2008 elections, women represented 15% of members of the lower House of Parliament and 24% of the upper House.

Obstacles to access to health

HIV/ AIDS is particularly prevalent amongst women. The 2005/2006 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) revealed an average prevalence rate among young people of age 15 to 24 of 11.25% among females and 4.45% among males. Other studies shows that young women make up almost 80% of all infections in the 15 to 24 years age group. The rate of maternal mortality remains very high (880/ 100,000 births), in part due to the practice of non-medicalised abortions. Abortion is criminalised. Women in rural areas face major obstacles to accessing health services, including having to travel long distances.

THE COALITION OF THE CAMPAIGN CALLS ON THE AUTHORITIES OF ZIMBABWE TO:

Ensure that the new Constitution contains provisions guaranteeing the principle of equality and non-discrimination between men and women.

Reform or repeal all discriminatory legislation in conformity with CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol.

Harmonise statutory religious and customary law in conformity with CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol and ensure that where conflicts arise between formal and legal provisions and customary law, the formal provisions prevail.

Take all necessary measures to guarantee the effective implementation of the laws criminalising domestic violence and prohibiting discriminatory customary practices; provide support to victims, including by establishing a legal aid system; implement awareness-raising programmes for the general population and training for all law enforcement personnel.

Increase efforts to ensure women’s equal access to employment and decision-making positions, including by strengthening measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, ensuring employment legislation applies to private sector employers and regulating the informal sector; and implementing quotas on representation of women in political positions.

Ensure women’s access to health services, including obstetric care and family planning; launch awareness campaigns to inform the public about contraception and provide contraceptives in order so as to reduce the number of illegal abortions; decriminalize abortion; and ensure access to sexual and reproductive health education.

Provide the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development with the necessary material and financial resources to enable it to carry out its mandate.

Adopt all necessary measures to reform or eliminate discriminatory cultural practices and stereotypes, including through raise awareness programmes targeting women and men, traditional and community leaders.

Ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.

Principal sources

• Focal Point: Zimrights

• UNFPA, www.unfpa.org

• Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS)

• Wikigender, www.wikigender.org

THE CAMPAIGN FOCAL POINT IN ZIMBABWE

ZIMRIGHTS: ZimRights, an indigenous non-profit NGO founded in 1992, is a network of human rights activists, with a strong grassroots representation. Zimrights holds inclusive human rights and civic education workshops and its members often participate in gender sensitisation workshops. www.zimrights.org

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Friday 20 March 2009

Zimbabwe - Zimrights launches the Campaign

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