WE need committed action that looks beyond the 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence, says Socialist Party women’s league member Janet Zimba.
Zimba said in practical terms, there was need for more action that starts in homes and extends into the public spaces.
“As we begin the 16 days of activism international campaign against gender-based violence under the global theme: ‘Orange the world: End Violence against women now!’ we are reminded of the violence women experience both in private and public spaces,” she said.
Zimba said the violence had manifested itself in the form of physical, sexual and, or psychological harm or suffering, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, as well as threats.
She said in other instances, violence had been a tool of political harassment and intimidation against female candidates during election periods.
Zimba said a recent report by the Zambia National Women’s Lobby noted a sad trend between February and October 2021 of cyber-bullying, hate speech, sexual harassment, libel, misinformation and slander against women in politics, as issues requiring urgent attention.
The report stated that 493 incidents of cyber-bullying of various female political leaders were observed on social media platforms.
The report stated that the top five categories of incidents were documented as general insults, derogatory, belittling remarks with a gender angle, sexual harassment or embarrassment, leadership ability, stereotypical gender roles, and intelligence/qualification.
It cited a number of women who were victims of cyber-bullying, hate speech, with Socialist Party member Christine Musole among them.
Zimba said as one of the female candidates who stood in the August elections, for Lumezi Constituency in Eastern Province, she was equally subjected to violence of differing forms as well as patriarchal cultural norms and values from society.
“The most intense period in my case was the post-August 2021 elections that were marred with extreme political violence in Kaumbwe. Socialist Party members, especially women, were subjected to violence from UPND ruling political party cadres. Together with colleagues, we were attacked, beaten and bruised in our camp a few days before voting day. Vehicles were destroyed and four people sustained serious injuries,” she recalled.
Zimba said while the violence and attacks were aimed at the party and its leadership, more women were injured.
“This violence undermines women and discourages them from participating in politics. We need committed action that looks beyond the 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence. In practical terms, we need more action that starts in our homes and extends into the public spaces. The violence we see in public spaces is a reflection of what our homes look like and vice-versa,” said Zimba. “Violence undermines progress, development, and who we are as a people and a nation. We need a conducive environment in a fair and just world and in our country with more women participating in our politics and economy.”
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until December 10, the Human Rights Day.