BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

GOVERNMENT, which is accused of rights abuses, got a rare pat on the back on Tuesday for its efforts towards improving policy framework to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV) amid calls for a year-long campaign against violence.

In a joint statement to commemorate the start of the 16 days of activism against GVB, the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe (Bulawayo), Victory Siyanqoba and Intwasa Arts Festival acknowledged government’s efforts towards eliminating GBV.

This year’s campaign runs under the theme: Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape.

“We acknowledge concerted efforts by the government in improving the policy and legal framework to incorporate laws that seek to eliminate gender-based violence,” their joint statement read. They cited the enactment of the Criminal Law Act (2006), Domestic Violence Act (2007), the setting up of the Anti-Domestic Violence Council to enforce this law and the 2013 National Gender Policy of 2013 that sets out strategies to eliminate GBV. The strategies include the formulation of policies to protect women from GBV, eradicating harmful social practices, instituting gender audits and evidence-based research and documentation on GBV, including increased financing towards awareness activities.

“State and non-State actor collaborations should be enhanced so as to promote greater success (to attain) provisions of the Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other regional statutes to which the country is signatory to,” they added.

MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe weighed in calling on the campaign against GBV to run not only for 16 days, but throughout the year.

”Violence stands against our values as Africans, therefore, let us take action against the abuse of women and children. I would like to conclude by alluding to the fact that the campaign against gender-based violence must not be for the period during the 16 days that is from November 25 to December 10, but it must go throughout the 365 days,” Khupe said.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), about one in three women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about one in three women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 in Zimbabwe.

In June, the Spotlight Initiative — a four-year global UN programme supported by the European Union to fight GBV — was launched in Harare. Under the programme, Zimbabwe will receive US$34 million of the €500 million availed globally by the EU for GBV programmes at multiple levels. Zimbabwe is one of the eight countries in Africa to benefit from the fund.