WOMEN in parts of Matabeleland South have alleged that some chiefs and headmen in the area sexually abuse them whenever they seek the assistance of traditional courts.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
Contributing to debate during an Imbizo/Indaba organised by Habakkuk Trust on Wednesday, the women in areas such as Mangwe, Umzingwane and Gwanda districts said some traditional leaders demanded sexual favours in exchange of their services.
Mollet Dube from Mawabeni in Umzingwane said widows were the worst affected.
“In order to be heard by some traditional leaders or to win their cases, some women end up being sexually abused,” she said.
“Our voices are not taken seriously and we have a challenge that we have no women who represent us in the traditional council.”
Tshiyapo Ndlovu from Mangwe said most traditional leaders in the area were males, who do not believe in gender equality.
“The issue of inheritance also has become a challenge as our leaders have no knowledge and are being used to push agendas,” she said.
“We have raised these issues as ward 11 in Plumtree and had a meeting so that these traditional leaders see the importance that women should be part of the council.”
Ndlovu also complained that most headmen in the area were biased.
A ministry of rural development official, Canaan Mathema said the government must ensure that women are represented at all levels.
“Traditional leaders need to be told and educated about the Constitution, which talks about gender equality,” he said.