By Rumbidzai Zijena
16 days of activism also known as ‘orange days’, have been set aside to fight against Gender based violence on the 25th of every month starting November 25 for Zimbabweans.
A street dance and a food for thought session were put together and made possible by a consortium of organisations i.e. UN Women, Tag A Life International (TALI), Gender Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (DANIDA) and Padare men’s forum; just to name a few.
The main aim of these functions was to create awareness about issues causing gender based violence and to offer solutions and promote freedom of expression for women and girls all over the world
The street dance was conducted by feminist, gender activist Tendai Garwe and company at Copacabana bus terminus, yesterday, music was played and people danced for prizes.
During the course of the function Tendai went on to say women have rights and they have the right to put on what they want to i.e. miniskirts, shorts and should not oppressed or judged because of it. “All the jeering and shouting that women are forced to withstand has to stop, men put on their vests and no one judges or mocks them for it”.
Gender based violence is a phenomenon misunderstood by many, most people associate GBV with physical abuse only, whereas its open to emotional and economic abuse.
‘Economic abuse is whereby men do not want women to succeed so as to control them’, said Walter Vengesai, programmes officer at PADARE men’s forum.
Jane Marimo-Stoving a GBV victim from Denmark attended the Food for thought session and told her story on how she suffered from emotional and economic abuse at the hands of her first husband who never wanted to see her empowered and called her all sort of names.
‘When my husband dumped me for another, I decided to take care of my 5 kids through selling kachasu, but when he discoverd that, he threatened to report m to the police then I stopped’, said Jane
She went on to say, ‘I decided to use the machine he had bought me earlier in our marriage to sew aprons for sale but my husband confiscated the machine saying I was not worth of using it.
Her husband cheated on her and it emotionally wrecked her as she had never thought of sharing her husband with anyone.
‘I cried for days and had sleepless nights, that’s when I decided enough was enough and decided to move on with my life’
Jane is now happily married to a Danish man and they have 2 kids together.
Walter highlighted that African men lack real role models; most of them follow in the footsteps of their fathers who have been far from being perfect that is why it is difficult to prevent violence against women.
He went on to say, “You only live one life, if the situation is not comfortable for you move on, as much as you want marriage to work do not sacrifice your life over a marriage that is not worth it.
The patriarchal system is the major component that is leading to domestic violence, man are born with privileges and women are there as facilitators, the woman’s role becomes minor as she has no say, power and control over issues.
Whilst interviewing men from the streets of Harare, the excuses most men gave in relation to why they do not want women empowered was that ‘as man’, they are the head of the family and the woman’s role is minor so women should always be submissive to men,
However there are other men who admitted to being good to their wives and shunned from being violent towards them settling matters amicably.