UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Maria Ribeiro has called for zero tolerance on rape as a key means of addressing sexual and gender-based violence in pursuit of achieving peaceful communities.
Ms. Riberio made the remarks at the Press Briefing on 16 Days of Activism Against GBV held in Harare on 25 November 2019.
The day 25 November marks the beginning of the UN Secretary General’s global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence that coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and goes up to 10th of December which is the Human Rights Day. The 16 days rightfully links the elimination of violence against women to human rights that all UN Member States including Zimbabwe have agreed to uphold.
The global theme for this year is, “Orange the World: Generation Equality stands against Rape”. The theme aims to highlight the urgent need for public discourse on the issue of rape in an effort to provide women and girls safe-spaces to report rape, abuse, and sexual exploitation without intimidation and stigma.
The United Nations in Zimbabwe has lined up a number of advocacy activities for the duration of the 16 Days, which include: oranging the Magistrate, HeForShe to engage men, launching of one-stop-center in Chinhoyi to provide an integrated service to survivors of gender-based violence, and public dialogue on the issue of people living with disabilities.
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),” Ms Ribeiro said.
The UN Resident Coordinator said 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. The United Nations in Zimbabwe remains committed to working with everyone that believes in equality. Together let’s stand against rape throughout the year.”