Helen Kadirire 10 December 2017
HARARE – Zimbabwe is the fifth among 10 countries surveyed where women
endure public harassment ranging from staring, insults and wolf-whistling
to being followed, groped or even raped, a survey by the charity ActionAid
UK has revealed.
The report comes at a time when the world is marking 16 Days of Activism
Against Violence of Women and Children.
“In Zimbabwe 35,7 percent of the women and girls reported to have
experienced sexual harassment in their life time. At least 44 percent of
the female respondents did nothing when harassed, 35,7 percent of women
and girls interviewed expressed that they did not feel safe at market
places,” the report said. But activists say the figures are still gross
underestimates, as many victims remain reluctant to report crimes such as
sexual violence for fear their families and communities will shun them.
The Safe Cities report also showed that 44 percent of women did nothing in
response to violence while only 3,9 percent made police reports.
Actionaid said the fear of reporting and risks of reporting, due to stigma
and a “blame culture”, resulted in lack of justice for victims of
Betty Sithole, programme and advocacy manager, said there are no specific
or relevant policies generated by the Gender Equality Office or Women’s
Office to ensure the prevention, protection or redress of sexual violence
in public spaces.
“Male attitudes towards women in what is a largely patriarchal society
have worked against women’s rights and protection from violence in public
spaces. This spills over into the lack of respect for a woman’s
contribution to the household in terms of domestic chores,” Sithole said