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Standing Up Against Violence in Public Places for Women & Girls

Tag a Life International (TaLI) is a member of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), a network of women rights activists and women’s organizations, which provides a forum where women meet to engage in collective activism on issues affecting women and girls in Zimbabwe and on the 19th 0f December 2014 the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) called a Press Conference to address the issue of the stripping of women and girls after a video of a young woman being stripped and harassed at a Kombi terminus by rowdy men started circulating on social media. Members of the media and civil society filled the venue, with many having to contend with listening from outside.


Miss Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, the Founder and Director of TaLI, gave the press statement on behalf of WCoZ;
“It might appear as though this is an act directed at one woman, but its effect is to damage our children psychologically, dehumanize women and present us as a lawless nation.  The Barbaric behavior of those males who took part in this should outrage the men whose daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and aunts are no longer safe in this country’s safe 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 women being harassed and humiliated by the very people who are supposed to be brothers, husbands, boyfriends, fathers and most importantly law abiding citizens.” she read Let us all go on a Zero Tolerance to Violence mode!  Real men don’t violet women’s rights!  Those who are not real men and harass women like this belong to the department of Poisons and Correctional Services!

COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS RECOGNISES THE WORK OF ALUMNI MEMBER, TaLI DIRECTOR, NYARI MASHAYAMOMBE

On the 16th of June every year the world commemorates the Day of the African Child. Aside from this day being used to recall the 1976 uprisings in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa against apartheid –inspired education resulted in the public killing of these unarmed young protesters by police officials, this day further presents an opportunity to focus on the work of all actors committed to the rights of children on the continent, to consolidate their efforts in addressing the obstacles for realizing these rights. This day provides an occasion for Governments, International Institutions and Communities to renew their on-going commitments towards improving the plight of children by organizing activities aimed at including them.

In that line of thought Community Solutions, a professional development program for global community leaders working to make positive changes in their communities, chose to honour alumni member, TaLI Founder and Director, Nyaradzo Mashayamombe. The theme for the Day of the African Child for 2015 was, “25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa” and it was under this theme that Community Solutions chose to recognise the efforts of Nyaradzo Mashayamombe through Tag a Life International, put towards ending Child marriage in Zimbabwe.

FACT FINDING MISSION ON GIRLS SITUATION AT CHINGWIZI TRANSIT CAMP

On Friday the 2nd of August 2014 the TaLI team led by the Director Nyaradzo Mashayamombe travelled to Chingwizi Holding Camp in response to the Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe which claimed that there were over 100 girls between the ages 10 and 12 are pregnant at the chingwizi holding camp. Thus we went to verify the authenticity of the report and study the situation on the ground in relation to the conditions in which the girls and all residents lived in. Findings are as outlined:

 

The situation at the Chungwizi holding camp is very bad.

When we were approaching the camp there we police man with helmets and dogs at the first boom gate to the camp. They neither talked to us nor blocked us from getting into the camp.  - When we got into the camp the place was so quiet, there were no people loitering outside the tents as one would expect to see people roaming around under normal circumstances. There were no children playing outside the tents even if it was during the weekend. The situation was just tense as we hardly spent 10 minutes at the camp. There was no one to talk to so we drove to the Mlali transit school(the nearest school) where we hoped we could find out about the PTUZ report allegations. 

 

At this school, we held informal interviews with a couple of people. The situation was tense as a result of conflict that had erupted between the residence and the Police where it was reported that Police vehicles had been burnt down as the police was alleged to have tried to force move people without compensation, to their newly allocated land. The residence did not want to move because they demanded compensation first from the government.  We could neither interview the girls or anyone in this particular camp.

 

Mlali Transit School

The response we got was a clear indication that they had recited answers to the questions.  The few teachers we spoke to had been told what to say by authorities which was contrary to what we could see.  They said that the claims by PTUZ are just speculations and they are not sure where the statistics in the report are coming from.  They told us that there had not been any recorded drop-outs of children from School.  However one of the secondary school teachers was diplomatic as to tell us that they were not in a position to respond since all the information we needed was to be found at the district office. Thus he advised us to go to the office as he said he was sure we would get all the information there.  This was a clear indication that there were issues but they could not tell us.

 

Interview with Girls from Mlali Transit School

The form one students we talked said that there were many children were not coming to school since they have completed their midyear exams. She mentioned that some children had already stopped coming to school even before their examinations.  She highlighted the fact that there is high moral decadence of children resulting in many children being chased away from school. Girls are calling out of school boyfriends engaging in inter-generational relationships. General behavior of the children with the interference of parents who do not want their children disciplined by the school authorities, had forced expulsion many school children both in Primary and Secondary School.

 

Interview with boys at Mlali and staying in the camp

They mentioned that girls are getting married at tender ages though he had no specific numbers.  There were others who had dropped out of school and rumors had it that they were pregnant. He however did not have specific statistics but that he knew a number of girls who were in this position.  One of the boys was in a relationship with a form 1 girl and he said ' if a girl is in a relationship with a school boy its different with when she is in a relationship with an out of school boy who in some cases will be a drunkard and will not be at the same level of negotiating with the girl'. He was referring to the vulnerabilities that girls face in inter-generational relationships. The children alluded negative impact of lack of after school activities contributing to children ending up in mischief.  One boy mentioned that during the time they were in their original homes, the issue of house hold chores would keep everyone occupied at their own house compared to non-activity in the camp.  Reports were that parents had complained to the police on some of the children’s behavior especially when they were trying to intervene on girls’ relationships with older men.

 

Interviewing one of the boys about the life at the Transit Camp,  he had this to say;

“Children are disturbed academically, we have lost a year already and am not confident that i can sit for my O level exam next year. I am deciding to repeat form three so that i can cover up the lost period and sit for his exams when he will be ready”

 

Children are not at all happy about the way they are living at the camp. Parents are failing to control their children and this is because people are just crowded at the camp. He said “I am also scared because there are shabeens(house beer places) at the camp and due to lack of things to do my father spends some time at these places and there are sex workers in these places. My fear is my father might end up contracting ‘‘the disease’’ and passe it on to my mother and we will end up being orphans”

 

His main wish was that if they can move as soon as possible as when they were brought to the camp they thought the they would stay for only 2 months but it’s almost a year since they were at the holding camp. The boy mentioned that waiting for the money is doing more harm than good to the people in general and children in particular..

 

Other Notes

There is serious need to protect human rights at the camp. The conflict between the government and the residence of Chingwizi camp require urgent attention. While it is a great idea for the government to move people from the camp to the resettlement areas, the government must provide the finances that the residence are demanding for the relocation. There are vulnerabilities for the girls and women if the government forces people to move without money. Issues of food for survival, materials for building, sanitary wear for girls and women, general socio economic factors like prevention and management of HIV vulnerabilities for women are key. Issues of shelter are also key. TaLI urges the government of Zimbabwe to provide funding for the residence to move, as well as respect basic human rights in the process such as dignity of people.

OUR STRENGHT IN PARTNERSHIPS

TaLI recognises the impact it brings when organisations work in strategic partnerships with relevant key stakeholders. As a Girl Child Rights organisation, Tag a Life International Trust(TaLI) is mothered by the Ministry of women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. Throughout our work, we have partnered with this ministry as we defend the rights of girls and create the opportunities for her development.

 

The organisation has received immense support from the Head Office of the Ministry right to the Midlands Office. As we work in both the Schools and Communities, TaLI has utilised the structures of the Ministry of Women Affairs in the

Community where it has worked with Community Peer Educators which were drawn from the Ministry’s Ward and District Structures. Working in Shurugwi and now entering Zvishavane, TaLI has obtained the requied necessary papers owing to the deeper relationships with the Ministry. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in the Midlands Province had been nothing but supportive as well when we worked in Shurugwi District. We hope to continue enjoying the relationships so that we manage to provide the required programmes to protect the girls and all children at large. In the Schools TaLI has been engaging teachers and students at schools, to train them on issues of girls rights and protection, so that they

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