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Sextortion scourge visits services sector

Over the years, Zimcodd has tried to foster a culture of whistleblowing amid reports that corruption is costing the country nearly US$2 billion annually.

THE Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) says women in the services sector are increasingly facing sextortion as they seek to increase their participation in the anti-corruption discourse.

Over the years, Zimcodd has tried to foster a culture of whistleblowing amid reports that corruption is costing the country nearly US$2 billion annually.

In its latest report on The Gender, Corruption and Whistleblowing Nexus, Zimcodd said stakeholders were calling for the inclusion of women in the anti-corruption struggle.

“Women face a disproportionate impact as a result of corruption, especially seen in service delivery inefficiencies. For women to access basic services such as education, sanitation, documentation and law enforcement, they may be asked not only for bribes but forced into sextortion,” Zimcodd said.

“Furthermore, corruption, especially in public offices, shrinks the public purse. In Zimbabwe, it is reported that Zimbabwe loses about US$1,8 billion to corruption annually. This loss has a heavier impact on women and children who rely more on public services.”

Sextortion is a tactic which employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort sexual favours from the victim, a practice largely targeted at female workers.

According to Zimcodd, the lack of sufficient whistleblowing legislation, unsafe reporting spaces, victimisation, lack of whistleblower protection policies and patriarchy were fanning sextortion.

Zimcodd said women were a key population in whistleblowing and reporting of corruption should not be left out in the anti-corruption discourse.

“The principal solution is to localise instruments on anti-corruption and protection of whistleblowers, where necessary, paying particular attention to women’s needs. Government recently reported that principles on a whistleblowing Act had been approved, however, they are still to be released into the public domain,” Zimcodd said.

“This process must be fast-tracked with the urgency it demands. Whistleblower protection policies exist in some organisations but are not implemented. There’s a need for political will and sincerity to implement these policies. Localisation of regional instruments also demands political will. Insincere affirmative action will not lead to social change.”

Zimcodd also encouraged capacity building by eliminating patriarchal systems in different institutions.

“Patriarchy remains a barrier to women’s participation in whistleblowing and education from primary institutions such as churches, schools and the corporate world can change social norms around women’s participation.

“Further, objectification of women which leads to sextortion can also be reduced through education campaigns,” Zimcodd said.

“Budgeting should be gender-responsive to ensure financing is more responsive to the needs of women. Further, there should be support for gender research and collection of sex-aggregated data on corruption. This will help to inform advocacy responses and resultant policy/law measures.”

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