BY LORRAINE MUROMO/DESMOND CHINGARANDE
THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) and organisations representing the girl child yesterday raised concern over continued abuse of girls, and urged government to urgently align laws on the rights of women and girls to the Constitution.
In a statement to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child, ZGC chairperson Margaret Mukahanana Sangarwe said it was saddening that there was gender disparity in terms of allocation of resources and benefits during the COVID-19 era.
“There is also a digital divide which results in men and boys benefiting disproportionately to women and girls in terms of access to and use of digital technology. Without a gender-sensitive digital revolution, the girl child is vulnerable and continues to suffer online bullying and also aggravated gender-based violence that takes place online rendering such spaces unsafe,” she said.
The girl child rights defender urged government and relevant stakeholders to mainstream gender in all COVID-19 relief and recovery policies and responses. Lawyer Joshua Chirambwe said: “Girl child abuses are on the rise and this points to lack of enforcement measures because the Constitution is clear and legislation is available, but there is no enforcement. There is need for structural, community and individual strategies to tackle factors fuelling abuses of the girl child.”
Chirambwe said there had been political persecution of the girl child in the country, such as the case of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s ex-wife Marry Mubaiwa who has been arraigned before the courts while very sick, and the case of the MDC Alliance trio of Joanah Mamombe (Harare West MP), Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, who were allegedly abducted by suspected State security agents, but the ZGC remained silent.
ZGC chief executive officer Virginia Muwanigwa said the commission was currently investigating complaints of sexual exploitation and abuse of the girl child in apostolic sects.
Shamwari YeMwanasikana executive director Ekenia Chifamba said more focus should be placed on challenges faced by the girl child while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we celebrate this day, we continue to call on our government to expedite the finalisation of the Marriages Bill that will ensure total protection of our girls under the age of 18,” she said.
“The issue of access to education affected a number of young women and girls as the majority of them did not have the gadgets, data and radios where they could access educational materials during COVID-19.”
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