In Zimbabwe, there are many stories and testimonies of incidences where women and girls are beleaguered by commuter omnibus drivers, conductors and touts. Some women have lost their lives due to the public violence while boarding commuter omnibuses. Just imagine an environment where commuter operators take the lead in the quest to end Gender Based Violence (GBV) in public spaces.
Being part of a team that planned and organized the sticking of labels that condemn violence against women in public spaces on commuter omnibuses in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe was an exceptional experience for me. I was motivated knowing that I am doing something that has long term effects of changing people’s attitude. As a progressive young man myself, I was happy to be part of the processes that will see society taking responsibility in making public spaces safe for my mother, sisters and daughters of this land. This will help in making everyone fully enjoy women’s rights and human rights at large.
The pasting of anti- GBV stickers on omnibuses event was organized by ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) in partnership with Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA), a partner to AAZ. ZWLA is implementing the SHE CAN Project in Chitungwiza whose objective is to reduce the violence faced by women and girls in public spaces. The Commuter Association, Ministry of Women Affairs Gender and Community Development, District Administrator for Chitungwiza and the Zimbabwe Republic Police are part and parcel of the “sticking” business and are in full support of the initiatives aimed at eradicating GBV against women in public spaces.
The stickers are written “Stop Violence in Public Spaces, It is a Crime…Women and Girls Report Sexual Harassment, Indecent Assault, Verbal Abuse.” Information on the stickers also includes a telephone/toll free and hotline numbers administered by ZWLA for legal aid and WhatsApp and voice call numbers for linking survivors of GBV in publics direct to the ZRP.
The effort to put stickers on commuter omnibuses was a step in the right direction. It will help in raising awareness to all and point out that violence in public spaces against women has been normalized. Most women and girls are not aware of where and how to report violence when victimized and thus reading the information on the omnibuses they board will help them.
“Stick it on my commuter, most girls and women are abused by some of us and they accept it as normal and they do not know where to get help,” said one of the touts who identified himself as Chairman.
I feel that there is need to educate women and girls on their rights and where to get help when abused. There is need to also educate men and boys to respect women and girls and unite in stopping violence against women and girls in public spaces. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that all people fully enjoy the human rights and ensure that perpetrators of violence are punished.
Women’s rights are human rights. Let’s unite to end Gender Based Violence in Public and Private Spaces #safecitiesbecause, #hadituphere, #taxpaysfor
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA)
Toll free Number 0808131
Hotline 0782900900/ 0785023840
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Chitungwiza District
WhatsApp (only) Number: 0733 484 050
Mobile Number (Voice calls only): Cell Chitungwiza HQ 0733 608 267
ZRP St Mary’s Mobile Number (Voice calls only) 0739 794 932
ZRP Zengeza Mobile Number (Voice calls only) 0739 794 933