End violence against women — Rau

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The Research and Advocacy Unit (Rau) has urged the government to end political violence against women in Zimbabwe by bringing perpetrators to book, providing assistance to victims and preventing recurrence of the crime.

In a statement to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) being celebrated today, Rau said political violence witnessed during the 2008 disputed elections resulted in the injury of many women.
Each year around the world, IWD is celebrated on March 8.

Thousands of events occur not just on this day, but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Zimbabwe’s celebration to mark IWD will be held in Mutoko District at a date yet to be announced.

Mutoko suffered some of the worst cases of political violence during the 2008 elections.

“Breadwinners were killed or disappeared resulting in income losses and at times forcing families into abject poverty,” Rau said.

”The disruption in schools by political campaigns as well as the setting-up of political bases at schools created security fears among communities as schools had become political battlefields.

“As a result the girl-child dropped out of school and teachers fled to “safe” zones, depriving especially rural school-children of skilled teachers and the teachers of their sources of livelihood.”

Rau said homes were destroyed and whole granaries of harvest burnt to ashes.

This loss of assets forced many women into deprivation and economic distress from which they are still to recover.

In many of the cases, national leadership, traditional leadership and the police were unresponsive to the women’s pleas for protection and accountability.

“Political violence also impacted the delivery of health services which is an essential indicator of poverty in any country,” the unit said.

“Victims of the violence incurred injuries, ill-health and severe psychological damage. Most of these individuals have still not received adequate redress.”

Organisations, governments, charities and women’s groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues.