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VISET Statement on 16 Days Against Gender Based Violence and the Commemoration of World AIDS Day

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) joins the rest of the world in commemorating 16 days of activism against gender based violence which began on 25 November, whose global theme this year is “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

We also take this opportunity to commemorate World Aids Day, held annually on 1st December.

VISET as a representative body whose membership largely comprises women, takes the issues of gender based violence and the fight against HIV/Aids very seriously as they afflict many of our members. It is pertinent to also remember in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and other diseases that the world be reminded that, particularly here in sub Saharan Africa, the disease is still very much with us. To this end, we urge that more resources be channelled towards medications and the pursuit of vaccines.

The lockdown imposed at the beginning of April, brought many domestic challenges for families, as people were confined to their homes for longer periods and without incomes, as most are employed in the informal sector.

Zimbabwe witnessed a spike in cases of domestic violence with several cases of physical and emotional abuse of women being recorded during the lockdown period at household level, as reported by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

According to a research conducted by Zimbabwean civic society organisations this year, reports of physical violence went up by 38.5 percent from April to May while reports of emotional violence went up by 80 percent during the same period.

These figures are cause for concern, when factoring the fact that there is likely an underreporting due to the reason that some could not travel to police stations to make a report owing to lack of transport and the requirement that one needed an exemption letter to pass through security checkpoints.

Female vendors and informal traders have also borne the brunt of sexual harassment in their line of trade for the longest time and it is high time a line was drawn in the sand by the authorities. It is common cause that, even at border posts, they are subjected to harsh treatment in order to induce sexual favours.

Our bill of rights as enshrined in the constitution guarantees the right to dignity of all persons in pursuit of livelihoods however this is clearly not being put into practice.

We at VISET believe that the changes in our schools curriculum, whilst progressive, fall short in helping the nation confront the fight against gender based violence, a fight which MUST begin in the first level of socialisation. All law enforcement agencies must be sensitized on gender issues, with serious repercussions for those found in the wrong.

This fight must also have political will in order to succeed and we urge the highest office in the land, as well as the moral leaders of society as embodied by the churches to embrace this campaign.

Together, we can win the fight against gender based violence and the attainment of an Aids free world.

Prepared by VISET Information and Publicity Department

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