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Violence drives women out of politics: Biti

MDC Alliance deputy chairperson Tendai Biti says violence against women has led to women failing to participate fully in the political sphere and it has become a source of gender inequality.

Women constitute 52% of the population in the country yet they are one of the marginalized group hindering them from fully participating in politics.

Addressing the Parliament Biti said women in Zimbabwe are largely affected by violence which makes it difficult for them to participate in politics.

“We have had instances of violence lacerating our body politic that has had a fundamental effect on the capacity of women to participate in politics,” he said.

“It takes a great deal of courage for a woman, particularly a young woman to stand up and offer herself to public office.”

He said the country’s violent history which includes the Gukurahundi Genocide and the run off to the 2008 General Elections contribute to women being incapacitated to partake in politics.

Biti highlighted few reported incidences from the Zimbabwe Law Report that show the violence incidences against women.

“I want to refer to the case that is now known as the Mberengwa West By-Election Petition. The citation is 2002, Volume (1) Zimbabwe Law Report, page 233. That election at the High Court level was set aside among other things because someone known as Biggie Chitore heavily assaulted a woman, a member of the MDC known as Josephine Ngwena,” he said.

“Again in an election petition, one Rose Chauke the plaintiff or applicant was badly assaulted in a case of political violence by a man known as Boniface Mutemachani.”

He added: “These cases show empirically the existence of violence in our society, violence is responsible for the disproportionate number of women to men.”

Biti said men perpetuate domestic violence to control women.

“35% of women between the ages of 15 – 49 have experienced domestic violence since the age of 15. 14% of women between the ages of 15 – 49 have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, and this is according to the 2015 Demographic Health Survey,” he said.

“Men use domestic violence as a weapon of controlling women, this violence is physical and emotional,” he said.

He added: “The majority of our women continue to survive on the periphery of human existence.”

This comes at a time when the world will later this month commemorate 16 days of activism against gender based violence.

The campaign runs every year from November 25 , the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day.

This year`s theme is “Leave No One Behind – End Violence against Women”.

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