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VISET Statement on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

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Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) commemorates 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence running under this year’s theme “Enhancing the Inclusion of Youths in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence”

The informal economy is home to over 62 percent of women that earn a living from it, from the trader that gets to the farmers market at 5 AM, to the women that sell foodstuffs at taxi ranks and the female hairdressers in the high density suburb. All these women are hardworking, at most times beginning the working day as early as 2 AM, to begin Unpaid Care and Domestic Work for family members such as fetching water and other domestic chores.

Women in the sector generate cash on a daily basis, an issue that at times causes friction and violence from spouses that may feel insecure with the increased economic power. It is meanwhile a double jeopardy as some women are vulnerable to harassment in marketplaces through sexual advances, sextortion by space barons and law enforcement, with reports recently of women traders in the Mbare area alleging that they are being strip searched by police officers wanting to extort cash.

Of great concern are recent reports of abuse of girls as young as 9 years that have fallen pregnant after being abused. Worryingly, many cases go unreported as most abuse is perpetrated by close family members.

All these factors point to the need for social workers that can assist in unearthing abuse and also offering counselling services to victims. We call upon the government to increase awareness of sexual abuse in learning institutions, as well as publicity campaigns that highlight the need to curb the worrying malaise in society. Another suggestion is the introduction of a sexual offenders registry that publicly names and shames convicted offenders of violence and abuse. We await the enactment of legislation that was reported through cabinet resolution of mandatory sentences for sexual abuse of girls and women, and will ensure that perpetrators of gender based violence are not spared.

VISET through the Informal Economy Women’s Hub (INEWOH) will continue its advocacy work, along with government agencies and like minded partners to eradicate the scourge in the country.

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