By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
12 May 2014
About 100 Zimbabwean women gathered at the Nigerian Embassy in Harare on Monday, in solidarity with the 200 Nigerian school girls who were abducted by Islamist group Boko Haram recently.
Calling themselves the Zimbabwe Young Women they represented various groups fighting for gender justice in the country. The group was addressed by Nigerian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mamman Nuhu, who joined in the lighting of candles in solidarity with the school children whose fate is still unknown.
Nuhu said the Nigerian girls’ fate was not isolated as there are many girls all over the world whose rights are routinely violated with their cases going unreported. He said his government was grateful for the solidarity they had received from Zimbabwean women’s organizations.
MDC-T shadow minister for Justice, Jessie Majome, was also part of the crowd and she thanked the activists for their initiative and reiterated Nuhu’s comments. She said: ‘The girls that have been taken away from their families are not different from the girls that we see in our streets, in our homes and villages here in Zimbabwe. So we say we are the same people with the people of Nigeria.’
Gender violence is commonplace across Africa and the latest case of the Nigerian girls has caused both shock and outrage across the globe. The Nigerian government has been accused of being complacent in its reaction.
Boko Haram has admitted capturing the girls, saying they should never have been in school and should get married instead. The group has threatened to sell the girls as slaves. Boko Haram has been fighting the Nigerian government since 2009 and women have been the major victims in that violent campaign.
But women and children in Zimbabwe have also been major victims of political violence. In December 2013 the ministry of Women’s Affairs, in conjunction with Gender Links, revealed that at least 68% percent of women in Zimbabwe had suffered from gender-based violence during that year alone.
In a report last year child sexual abuse was shown to be rampant in Zimbabwe. In a report the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit, said more than 2,400 children under the age of 18 were victims of rape between January and October.