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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Informal mining a curse for women

…As the world commemorates 16 days of activism against GBV

Branton Matondo

Following this year 2022 commemoration of 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV) running under the theme ‘Unite Activism to End Violence against Women & Girls’ from November 25 to December 10, civil society has noted that women are treated as ‘expendable commodities’ further exposing them to sexual, physical and emotional violence in mineral rich pockets of Zimbabwe.
With artisanal mining becoming the bed rock of survival in Penhalonga, Chiadzwa, Chimanimani and Odzi, women have been found on the other side of luck as they continue to be exposed to sexual manipulations by artisanal miners (magweja) and emotional abuse through rampant child marriage cases.
This was confirmed by Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) recent statistics which stated that at least 22 women are raped daily in Zimbabwe that is in every 75 minutes or one hour pointing to the fact that in every fifteen minutes a case of rape occurs.
On average 646 women are sexually abused monthly while one in three girls is raped or suffers some form of sexual abuse by the time they reach 18 years.
Speaking to TellZim News, Mutare-based youth forum Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA) co-ordinator Jussa Kudherezera said the informalized economy leading to proliferation of artisanal mining has already proved to be an impediment to girls and women.
“With the informalized economy and the advent of artisanal mining in Zimbabwe in gold-rich areas such as Penhalonga, Chimanimani and Odzi as well as diamond mining areas such as Chiadzwa, women are treated as expendable commodities further exposing them to sexual, physical and emotional violence. The extractive sector especially mining has become a curse for women instead of a blessing. This sector especially artisanal gold mining (chigweja) according to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission report is the biggest contributor to child marriages in the country,” said Kudherezera.
During a recent workshop held in Mutare, Centre for Research Development (CRD) leader Joseph Mupfumi said that besides manning of human rights violation by state security, women in the Marange area have also become sexual victims.
Reports indicate that women have been caught in between violence.
The lack of clear and viable tracing and groundwork in remote informal mining vicinities continues to affect the girl child.
MAYA believes that society has normalized early pregnancies indicating that so much work needs to be done.
“Society is not angry enough about child pregnancies; is this not a sign of a dysfunctional society? This is a clear case of how societies have normalized GBV. As MAYA, we refuse to legitimize this narrative and take this opportunity to speak out against Gender Based Violence Against Women and Girls (GBVAWG).
“Countering impunity, silence, stigma, and shame surrounding GBV is an important step towards supporting women and girls to lead more prosperous societies and engagement of men and boys.
“This must be accompanied by improved social and economic opportunities so that women and girls can fulfil their educational and professional goals and achieve economic independence through better access to decent work opportunities and social protection coverage, as well as to decision-making spaces and meaningful participation therein.
“Alongside these efforts, men and boys must not be left out, they must step up. They can begin where they live. It is an uncomfortable truth that for some women and girls rather than being a place of safety, as it should be, home can be deadly, “read a statement by MAYA.
Manicaland Women Forum (MWF) has been vibrant online as they have triggered a campaign that called for everyone to play their part as the province and the world at large propels the fight against GBV.

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