Ending GBV must go beyond the workplace: Legal Resources Foundation (LFR)

Makhosi Sibanda

Legal Resources Foundation (LRF), in commemoration of 16 days of activism against Gender-based violence, has challenged key decision-makers, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure that women and girls have a safe environment not only in the work place but also the world outside work.

The international theme for 2018 “Ending Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work” which LRF notes is key as violence and harassment in the workplace have for many years not been given the attention they deserve.

In a statement, the foundation called for stiffer penalties for perpetrators of gender-based violence particularly those abusing and harassing women in both the workplace and public spaces. 

“The LRF would like to join with the millions of voices in the world that are speaking against any form of violence and harassment in the formal and informal work places.

“Violence in the work place is a mockery to decent work and demands that all stakeholders give it serious and urgent attention,” said LRF.

The foundation says the global theme speaks to the research LRF conducted on the effects of touting on men and women in Zimbabwe’s major cities as they commute to their formal and informal work places. 

“LRF particularly notes with concern, the continued harassment of women when they make use of public transport. Women are often victimised by touts who use unscrupulous and harmful means to get clients.

“Touts use different approaches such as grabbing passengers’ luggage without their consent, threatening them, pushing or shoving them into buses or commuter omnibuses,” said LRF.

 Touting has thrived as a result of the absence of an organised public transport system which has contributed to making public spaces unsafe for women. 

While the government of Zimbabwe has acknowledged that touting is indeed a challenge in the country, LRF said the legal provisions currently in place are weak and ineffective. 

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police admitted that that the penalties imposed do not address the problem nor deter would-be offenders.

“The LRF therefore calls on different stakeholders to end gender-based violence in all spaces, be it public or private,” the organisation said.

The LRF also proposed that there be a review of the current legal instruments for increased safety of women and girls in public spaces particularly around public transportation.