By Lisa Lunga, National Youth Co-ordinator
Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation conducted a Monitoring and Mentoring session on 02nd of January 2019 – 03rd of January, 2019 at Epworth High School, Harare. The purpose was to assess the impact of WCCF training programme conducted in November – December 2018 during the sixteen days of activism. There were 20 peer educators from various towns. The Monitoring and Mentoring session was facilitated by Mildred Wudebwe. The rights stated included, the right to prompt provision of birth certificate, the right to family and parental care, the right to have a name, the right not to be forced to enter into political activities among others. The Peer educators are reporting cases of abuse to the police thereby helping access to justice in the community.
From 02 January 2019 – 12 January 2019 peer educators had reported 43 cases of child abuse. Culture and religion may violate one’s rights by pledging a girl child to placate the ancestors of the offended person. The Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe ruled in favour of banning child marriages particularly children under 18 in 2016 but to date, the law has not been aligned with the Constitution. The delay in aligning the Constitution may be associated with the fact that men usually have relationships with very young girls and usually get away with the violations. As Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation we have not been daunted and continue pursuing the matter of aligning the child marriages ruling with the Constitution. On the issue of prostitutes who have increased dramatically as the country continues to deteriorate, it was encouraging to note that there was a consensus that every person has right to be protected by the law despite the fact that they are promiscuous. Generally, the perception is that if one is a prostitute the issue of sexual violence is not a big issue.
Ms Rita Marque Mbatha assisted a girl who was barely 14 to get justice from the Rotten Row Criminal Court. The child was brutally raped and the Senior Magistrate incredulously sentenced the family man, a rapist to community service. The perpetrator had no permanent address and disappeared but was seen by the uncle of the rape victim whilst selling his wares and immediately alerted our organisation who in turn alerted the police. The Prosecutor General’s Office had lodged an appeal at the High Court at our instigation and the man had since been sentenced and in jail.
The education is being disseminated through poems, songs and drawings to the community members. The peer educators have requested WCCF to provide t-shirts, hats or uniforms so that they are visible in the society and most people can be confident in confiding various abuse issues to them.
On a sad note, Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation is experiencing the acute contamination of water at its premises. In violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the water from the wells and City Council boreholes are heavily polluted through leachate from industrial dumps by a local company. The adverse environmental and health effects of phosphoric acid abound. We usually assist more than 30 women on a daily basis but because of the water problem, we have reduced the number to ten. Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation has to buy water which is very expensive in order to keep the office open and continue assisting victims of sexual and domestic violence. We are unable to give temporary shelter to victims of abuse because of the ongoing environmental issue which has been reported to the authorities and is being constantly followed.
The Monitoring and Mentoring session was very successful and the participants managed to share various experiences in disseminating information on constitutional rights.