By Makanaka Masenyama
WOMEN feel the COVID-19 national lockdown has further marginalised them and have made a passionate plea to the government for the provision of free sanitary wear as they have run out of cash to purchase some.
“As women we can no longer afford (sanitary) pads. I am appealing to the government to look into that and give us free because we do not have money to purchase sanitary wear anymore,” one female Epworth resident said.
The appeal is one of the many that most women in poor communities in Zimbabwe are facing, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), which has been conducting surveys on how females were coping during the lockdown.
In its report, titled; “Their Voices Matter: Community Responses to COVID-19 Measures”, ZimRights narrates the economic, political, and social challenges that women and girls are facing during the lockdown period.
Another Epworth resident who survives on vending said her informal trade business had been affected as she could no longer travel to Mbare Musika to purchase vegetables and fruits in bulk for resell in the sprawling suburb.
Part of the lockdown regulations is to restrict travel without valid reason.
“We have also been affected as we live by vending, both men and women. It has become very difficult to operate during the lockdown and due to low sales, we cannot afford to pay rent,” she said.
“The lockdown has affected us because as a woman, I have to go out three to four times a day to look for water and we are not free to do so as the police are always after people who are gathered.”
Another woman from Norton, who is a crossborder trader and a member of ZimRights, said she had witnessed on several occasions, soldiers and police officers terrorising residents in the town.
“Police and the army are chasing people away. Women who sell vegetables at Katanga and Maridale are being terrorised by the police and the army and we witness that every day, leaving us in great fear,” she said.
“We have a sad incident of a woman who died after being run over by a vehicle that was being chased by the police. We urge the police to protect us within the laws that govern their operation.”
As part of its recommendations, ZimRights urged State security forces to exercise caution when dealing with the public to avoid brutality which is a violation of basic human rights.