ZANZIBAR First Lady Maryam Mwinyi has launched this year’s 16 Days of Activist against Gender-Based Violence (GVB) with a call for more awareness to battle the vice.
The launch took place at ‘Sheikh Idriss Abdulwakil Multi-purpose hall in the city, and was supported by a consortium of NGOs, and partners, led by the Ministry of Community Development, Elders, Gender and Children. The launch was preceded by a week-long exhibition at Mapinduzi Square
The wife of President Hussein Mwinyi said at a colorful event that members of the community have the responsibility to protect the rights of children and women, to ensure that these vulnerable groups are safe from acts of humiliation.
The event kick-started 16 Days of Activism awareness and sensitisation campaign, as the first lady called for an end to ‘Muhali’ (reluctance and shyness to report suspects who happens to be family members) as it denies justice for the victims.
The 16 Days of Activism against GBV is an annual campaign that begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through International Human Rights Day on December 10.
Led by civil society, the campaign is supported by the United Nations through the Secretary General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women initiative. This year, the UN marks the 16 Days under the theme “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”.
According to the UNWomen, violence against women and girls remains the most pervasive human rights violation around the world. Already heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic, its prevalence is now being further increased by the intersecting crises of climate change, global conflict and economic instability.
Mama Maryam said “If we do not stand firm and speak strongly against GBV along with advocating for better laws and enforcement, women and children will continue to be abused and their rights violated.”
She said women and children have direct and indirect contribution to the development of society and nation- since most mothers are employed as caregivers, teachers, counsellors and entrepreneurs, therefore members of the community and stakeholders must guarantee women protection.
Speaking about the commemoration, the First Lady said it is important because it provides an opportunity to evaluate the various efforts taken by stakeholders in combating the social menace with workable measures.
“It is sad that children and women continue to be abused even in hands of those who are supposed to protect them- a father, mothers, uncle, sister, houseworker, teacher, neighbour, and family member. It is a shameful and tarnishes our image,” Maryam Mwinyi lamented.
According to the Office of Chief Government Statistician (OCGS) from January to September of this year, a total of 865 incidents of GBV were reported and filed in different police stations- gender desks in both Unguja and Pemba.
Isles Minister of Social Development, Elderly, Gender and Children, Riziki Pembe Juma, said that due to increasing incidents, the government has been taking different steps to fight GBV.
The EU Ambassador, Manfredo Fanti, and Lucy Tesha from UN Women, said at different occasions that GBV remain a real threat to the development of children and women and that concerted efforts are required win the battle.
They urged men to be in the forefront against GBV to protect children and women,.