Harare Magistrates’ Court oranged for solidarity with anti-gender violence

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By Staff Reporter

HARARE’S Rotten Row Magistrate’s Court was weekend lit in orange colour to demonstrate solidarity with an initiative to eliminate all forms of violence.

Through the Spotlight Initiative – a collaboration among government, the European Union and the United Nations – the Judiciary Services Commission (JSC) said it was going to reflect on its practices and attitudes in discharging its duties.

“We are making a public announcement today of our transparency accountability to upholding the values of our constitution and the Zimbabwe in which world class justice prevails,” JSC secretary Walter Chikwana told delegates in front of the court building during the event.

“Harare Magistrate’s Court is the biggest court dealing with an average of 40 cases being received a month, 30 being children below 18 years of age.

“By oranging the court, we are making a commitment for the deliverance of quality, timeless judgement on cases of rape and other gender-based crimes.

“We will endeavour to ensure that women and girls enjoy their rights of access to justice.”

The iconic Harare Magistrates Court made history by joining a list of buildings and monuments that have been lit in orange to call for a violence-free future.

Speaking at the same occasion, United Nations resident coordinator Maria Ribeirhus said Zimbabwe, like many other countries in the world, has a social scourge that needs to be addressed holistically including ensuring the justice system sector plays its role in ensuring swift and appropriate justice.

“Recently, cases of rape, assault and abuse of women have been reported at an increasing rate with institutions once regarded as safe places such as churches, schools and workplaces recording the highest prevalence and providing ways of dealing with the issues,” she said.

“However, the courts need to use their legislated mandate to ensure justice and enforcement of sentences, and access to the court systems especially for cases of rape and sexual violence.

“The unfortunate impact of unreported cases due to the challenges met by victims within court systems has to be curbed, timely and victim-sensitive services by the court will send a message to would-be perpetrators that rape has no place in our society while also encouraging victims of such violence to come forward to seek what is rightfully theirs; justice.”

As part of the Spotlight Initiative, which seeks to eliminate violence against women and girls, the Zimbabwe justice system will benefit from strengthened capacities of duty bearers to discharge their mandates in addressing GBV.