BY NHAU MANGIRAZI
WOMEN lawyers have demanded that local authorities should craft sexual harassment policies to curb the scourge at their workplaces.
This was said by Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) director Abigail Matsvayi yesterday during a workshop for local authorities and farmers drawn from Mashonaland West province.
The meeting is part of ZWLA’s countrywide advocacy through the Spotlight Initiative to curb sexual harassment in the workplace.
It was done in partnership with United Nations Women and the Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development ministry.
Matsvayi said those in positions of power should strive to ensure that their workplaces have sexual harassment policies.
‘‘As ZWLA, we are pushing for a national sexual harassment policy to be crafted. We believe that justice must be accessible and this can be achieved with sound policies against sexual harassment. The policy is yet to be drafted by the Justice ministry,” she said.
“ZWLA is pushing for public awareness of sexual harassment policies by community-based organisations, policymakers, and other players. We encourage reporting of sexual harassment cases to break the cycle of silence, and we need to act collectively and target colleges as these are hotspots for sexual harassment.”
Hurungwe district development coordinator Andrew Tizora said: ‘‘Hurungwe has high prevalence rates of sexual harassment. It is rife. This is an unwelcome development that negatively affects our social fabric. We know sexual harassment is a cause of concern at workplaces including some local authorities.”
About 10 local authorities have been covered so far by ZWLA in disseminating information about sexual harassment at work.
Bradwell Chasara, the Hurungwe Rural District Council chairperson said some officials also abuse government programmes such as Pfumvudza, and were using the inputs scheme to sexually harass female beneficiaries.
In Kariba rural, a community-based organisation, Tony Wayte, recently reported that over 100 schoolgirls dropped out of school due to early child marriages.