The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe yesterday held a press conference and issued a statement following the release of yet another video of a woman being abused and forcibly undressed at a kombi rank in Harare.
The video has gone viral and shows the as yet unidentified women being heckled and physically violated by kombi touts for wearing a short-length dress.
“We need the state to respond to this lawlessness. Government and all it’s arms should ensure that this does not become a permanent culture in our society. We need justice, not only for the young woman who is in the video, but for every woman who has been a victim of violence.” Pamela Mhlanga Director at Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN)
“It is no longer time for us to talk and not do anything. We have to take action and ensure that something happens. We acknowledge that the police have announced that they are going to ensure that those touts are arrested. Let’s hold the police and our legislators accountable.” Tariro Makanga Communications Director, Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS)
“I was shocked and disgusted by what I saw. As men that is not how we behave, that behaviour is barbaric and violent. Where were the good men when all this was happening?” Walter Vengesai, Programme Officer at Padare/ Enkundleni/ Men’s Forum
During the press meeting, calls were made for women to boycott the use of kombis, among other measures mooted.
Below is the statement released by the Women’s Coalition;
THE WOMEN’S COALITION STATEMENT ON THE STRIPPING OF WOMEN
As the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, we note with outrage the continued stripping and humiliation of women by men for purportedly dressing “inappropriately’. We are particularly shocked by the latest incident where a video is circulating on social media of a young women who is being harassed and her underwear being pulled down by a group of men for wearing a short dress! We understand this happened at the Commuter Omnibus rank at Fourth Street recently.
We would like, in expressing our outrage to draw the nation’s attention to the following:
- Zimbabwe is a free country belonging to both men and women
- The Constitution of Zimbabwe assures all citizens of fundamental rights across the sexual divide
- All citizens, therefore have a right to chose how to dress
- It is barbaric, and unmanly to seek to dictate how another human being should dress. Doing this in the comfort of the anonymity of numbers is the height of cowardice.
- As a national we have a responsibility to act in away that teaches our children the correct values and the children who watch adult men behaving in such a despicable manner towards their women folk are learning that but violence and cowardice!
- It might appear as an act directed at one woman but its effect is to damage our children psychologically and present us as a lawless nation
- The barbaric behaviour of those males who took part in this should enrage the men whose daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and aunts are nolonger safe in this country’s public spaces like terminuses as was demonstrated by the stripping of the woman in this video.
- As women of Zimbabwe we will not stand by and watch as women are harassed and humiliated by the very people who are supposed to be our brothers, husbands, boyfriends and fathers!
We further call upon the following players:
- Government, particularly the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Gender and Community Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs, The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to take action to ensure that public spaces are safe for women.
- The Police to perform their duty of protecting the citizens of this country regardless of gender. We do not believe that each time such incidents happen there is never a policeman in sight. We look forward to the Justice Processes of these touts
- The general public to go on a zero tolerance of violence mode by apprehending such culprits and handing them over to the police. Real man don’t violet women’s rights! Let us demand that our streets be filled by real men! Those who are not real men belong to the department of Prisons and Correctional Services!
We thank you.