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UNICEF: Zimbabwe must halt violence against women

UNICEF calls on all Zimbabweans to halt horror of violence against women

Following the brutal murder of a Zimbabwean student by her boyfriend, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today called on the country's political and community leaders to campaign widely and forcefully to end the growing tide of violence against women and girls.

“The crime of domestic violence has devastating impacts on women and children and on Zimbabwe's development,” UNICEF country representative Festo Kavishe said in support of Zimbabwe Vice President Joice Mujuru’s vigorous condemnation of gender- based violence and any cultural practices that put the safety of women at risk.

“UNICEF says no, no and no to the horrifying stories of women who go into a relationship with high hopes and good intentions - and find themselves trapped with men who beat, kick, rape and at times kill them,” he added.

A combination of an inflexible approach to cultural and traditional practices, an economic downturn that has seen women become the chief bread winners as men are made unemployed, and odious beliefs on HIV and virgins have made gender-based violence frighteningly common in Zimbabwe.

Press reports and data collected at workshops and through non-governmental organizations indicate a steep rise in violence against women.

To counter traditional practices and principles that include the subjugation of women and acceptance that it is culturally permissible for a man to physically ‘discipline’ his wife and children, UNICEF strongly supports all those calling for the acceleration of the enactment of a law on gender-based violence.

“Zimbabwe's women continue to shine in the face of great social and economic odds,” Mr. Kavishe said, warning that domestic abuse plants the seeds of violence in the next generation.

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