By Paidashe Mandivengerei
Over 40% of females in Zimbabwe have reported that their first sexual encounter was forced by a perpetrator,United Nations Resident Coordinator, Maria Ribeiro has said.
Ribeiro was basing on the information obtained by the most recent Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZHDS) which further highlights that women who attained tertiary education were least likely to be victims of gender based violence victims.
The UN resident coordinator was speaking at a press briefing in commemoration of the start of the 16 Days Activism Against Gender Based Violence international campaign this Monday.
The beginning of the campaign coincides with the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women and will end on the 10th of December.
“In Zimbabwe, according to the latest Demographic and Health Survey, about 14% of women have experienced sexual violence between the ages of 15 to 49, while 43% of girls aged between 13-17 years reported that their first sexual intercourse was unwanted.
While there is still under-reporting on rape which stands at 21%, the cases addressed are even fewer than what is reported. This is because, first: victims take time to report and, in the process, evidence is lost. Second, there is reportedly no sympathy by law enforcement towards survivors of rape and sexual abuse. Third, there is reported lack of thorough investigation.
“Generation Equality stands against Rape” means respecting people’s boundaries and realizing that everyone deserves respect. There is need to change the environment so that women, girls and boys feel free to report abuse knowing that they will get justice including requisite services.
No one says YES to rape. There is no excuse to defend rape. Being drunk, wearing a mini skirt, she said “maybe,” or flirting are not excuses for rape.
There must be zero tolerance to rape. The United Nations has partnered with the Government of Zimbabwe and the European Union to implement the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls. The Initiative, launched this year in June 2019, takes a comprehensive approach to prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, protection of survivors, and provision of integrated services (psychosocial, legal and health).
The 16 days are there just to highlight joint efforts in addressing sexual and gender-based violence. Concerted efforts have been made to ensure that the elimination of violence against women and girls is a full-time commitment –in which everyone should remain engaged 365 days of the year,” she said.