The occurrence of politically motivated violence has dreadful and lasting effects on women and children. The two socially vulnerable groups can be equated to ‘the grass that suffers’ when elephants fight. Where homes are destroyed women are left with a burden to care and provide for their children and families while children withdraw from school and are faced with many other inhuman situations. The trauma that comes with the experience can also not be underestimated and leaves an indelible mark in the lives of the women and children that will make them hate participating in any processes of development and governance. Such is the sad and disheartening experience of the families of the four leaders of Johane Masowe yeVadzidzi in the Gomo area, Chiswiti in Mt Darwin whose homes were destroyed in a suspected politically motivated violence case last week. The Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) condemns in strongest terms the occurrence of such acts which are against the spirit and letter of the country’s constitution that guarantees citizens of Zimbabwe freedoms of association and conscience in accordance with Sections 58 and 60 respectively.
The IYWD is deeply concerned about the resurfacing of acts of violence of that nature amidst a time when the organisation is investing intensively in awareness raising and putting in place community mechanisms to curb violence against women in some of the districts in the Province. Mashonaland Central keeps on the top on the prevalence rate of gender violence, which undisputedly affects women and children more. According to reports by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Gender and Community Development of March 2013, Mash Central recorded 56% prevalence rate of gender violence against Matebeleland North’s lowest at 17%. Tentative statistics by the same Ministry indicate a sharp increase in cases of violence against women to 88% in Mashonaland Central and still being the highest recorded. The IYWD is worried continuous eruptions of violence develop an unhealthy culture of violence and impunity that keeps putting lives of women and girls at risk. Violence also exacerbates the already high levels of poverty among the rural communities.
The IYWD has pleaded with the local police to diligently do their job and bring the perpetrators to book. At the same time the organisation appealed to the traditional leaders in the area to deal with the perpetrators as a way of castigating acts of violence in their area.
The IYWD is a civic, feminist organisation that promotes the participation of young women in decision making at all levels, and has through its work witnessed how violence against women continues to marginalise the young women’s voice. It is in that vein that the organisation is investing in efforts to curb all forms of violence against women and girls and in their localities.