Zim women living in mining areas a constant target of abuse, says NGO

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

ZIMBABWEAN women living in the country’s mining areas are a constant target of sexual abuse, domestic violence on top of having their rights to water and other basics taken away from them.

This is according to a 2016-2019 Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) research in selected geographical mining areas in the country.

The research shows that women affected by mining activities do not have access to basic social services such as clean water and affordable health care.

They also endure gender-based violence and have limited or no economic opportunities for them to transform their lives.

“A significant number of women in mining areas have told CNRG they have been forced by mining-induced poverty to engage in commercial sex with mine workers,” said CNRG in a statement Sunday.

“A spike in child marriages and pregnancies has been witnessed in all areas with active extractive industries.

“This is also exposing women and the girl child to sexually transmitted infections and social problems.

“Women in communities hosting natural resources like minerals and wildlife suffer land and water grabbing which renders them unproductive, thereby increasing their vulnerability.”

CNRG has called on government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the socio-economic impacts of extractive industries on women in Zimbabwe.

The group said Zimbabwe was one of the member states that signed the Beijing Declaration and has made strides in domesticating the framework by ensuring that the new Constitution of 2013 has gender equality clauses as well as creating a National Gender Policy in 2004.

“However, whilst the policy has made significant progress in addressing domestic violence, women in communities affected by mining across the country are experiencing deepening inequality and gender based violence – direct, structural and cultural violence,” said the group.

“With the backing of government and involvement of politicians and security officials, extractive industries violate the rights of women with great impunity.

“As the world commemorates International Women’s Day (IWD2020), CNRG bemoans the dehumanizing treatment of women and calls on the government of Zimbabwe to observe domestic laws and international instruments on the rights of women.

“Under no circumstances must government pursue an economic project that increases the vulnerability of women.”

Zimbabwe is party to the global Sustainable Development Goals implementation on its territory.

The SDGs were adopted in 2015, to ensure that by 2030, every person lives a dignified life with access to basic services.

SDG Goal number 5 states that by 2030 member states should have achieved gender equality and empowered all women and girls.

“The implementation of these legal frameworks leaves at lot to be desired and women affected by mining are experiencing state-backed corporate bullying and blatant violation of their rights,” CNRG said.

“The true picture of the plight of women affected by extractive industries was not presented, mainly because they event was presided over by politicians and government bureaucrats who were in a self-congratulatory mode.”