The month of November alone was rife with murder cases and violent attacks on young women that left the Zimbabwean social media community perplexed, angry and outraged. Prudence Gold Madzavarara was a bride to be, a career driven banking woman, a responsible and contributing citizen and unfortunately her promising future was cut short by a group of thugs who robbed, stabbed and left her to die. Because she was a woman and because she was vulnerable and an easy target, it cost her her life. Ironically, the murder of the second victim, Lucy Duve, at the hands of a jealous and insecure boyfriend occurred right at the beginning of the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence’ campaign. These are just but 2 cases that made it to the timelines of peoples’ Facebook accounts and WhatsApp statuses. Many more women suffer silently right in their homes at the hands of their spouses and when they try to report the matter to immediate relatives they get the ever common responses of, “Shinga muroora’’ or, “What did you do to provoke him?’’
Although the 21st century has seen significant strides being made to equate women to their male counterparts in all spheres of life, women globally still suffer at the hands of their male counterparts and are discriminated against or treated unfairly in the professional and social space. The ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence’ campaign which kicks off annually with the International day of the Elimination of violence against women seeks to raise awareness and address issues regarding gender based violence (GBV). GBV manifests itself in various forms including forced marriages, rape, spousal violence, female genital mutilation, discrimination against girls/women, human trafficking, marital rape, street harassment as well as sexual harassment and violence. Although gender based violence is predominantly an issue affecting girls and women, boys and men can also be victims.
Savanna Trust and the General Agriculture and Plantations Workers’Union (GAPWUZ) heed the call to end gender based violence and in line with the 2018 theme, zoned-in on gender based violations that particularly occur in the workplace. As such, Savanna Trust and GAPWUZ decided to take the campaign to some of the most neglected and marginalised members of the Zimbabwean work-force, the farm workers. The campaign was done through theatre and post-performance discussions focusing on the abuse that women who work in the farms are exposed to and how the farm should be a safe working space for women. A total of four (4) performances were done at Swandale Farm, Bryn Farm (Norton), Buena Vista and (Ruwa).
The performances managed to raise awareness against gender based violence in the world of work as well as to inform and devise appropriate actions to take when encountered with gender based violations. In the follow-up focus group discussions that ensued after each play, a general consensus resonated across all farms that the issues portrayed in the play were in reality occurring within their workspaces. For example, both men and women bemoaned sexual abuse and harassment women receive from most farm managers, supervisors as well as from their male counterparts. There was a call for the farms to implement the gender policies whose crafting was facilitated by GAPWUZ. Knowing and understanding the gender policy and reporting issues of gender based violence to the police, senior management or GAPWUZ were some of the resolutions that were proposed as immediate actions to take.