Eight Hundred members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched to parliament in defiance of a Ministry of Gender and Women’s Affairs barring of WOZA commemorating the 16 days Campaign against Gender violence, today Monday 28 November 2011. The march was to launch WOZA’s campaign under the theme – From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women
The 12noon protest comprised of two processions that began in the roads leading to Parliament. A member of the notorious presidential guard on motorbike closely monitored the protest following behind until they arrived at Parliament. Despite this and the barring by the women’s ministry both protests managed to reach the door of Parliament. Upon arrival they spent over 20 minutes, singing and giving speeches before peacefully dispersing.
Staff and Riot Police based at Parliament stood by listening attentively to the activists calling for an end to gender violence and militarism.
Bystanders were vocal about the wonderful singing of the activists and their choice of lyrics that matched the theme. There was an especially composed marching song and then another to be sung at Parliament.
«Semadzima eWOZA takamirira zvakawanda. Kurema kwazvo kunoda madzimai. Hazvina mhosva kunyangwe zvorwadza zvorema takamirira zvakawanda».
(Translation – As Women from WOZA we stand for a lot of things. The difficulty of it requires women. It doesn’t matter if it’s difficult and painful, we stand for a lot and all this requires a woman.»
Upon hearing the speeches and singing, a bystander came forward to testify at how she is being abused by her brother who has since forced her out of their family home together with her children. She told them that her brother has been abusing her for ages.
During the march, members distributed a pamphlet describing strategic non violence and how WOZA practices it and the Woza Moya (Come Healing Wind) Newsletter promoting the campaign.
Speeches mentioned the Police statistic that 124 women were raped in 11 days; that sexual harassment is experienced by up to 70 % of women; Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria. Another member spoke about the current recruitment of children into youth militia and the increase in militia bases in Harare. Explaining that this is the militarism, WOZA want to end.
This protests follows the 21st September 2011 is International Day of Peace and WOZA members’ organised a peaceful march in Bulawayo where police where police conducted a military campaign to beat up peaceful protesters and shouted abusive engendered language at the women.