Women from across the political, social and economic divide took to the streets of Harare this Friday, demonstrating against the continued rise in cases of violence against women in the country.

Business almost came to a standstill in Harare when women from all walks of life joined in the march against gender based violence.

The march was organised by a local women’s rights group, Musasa Project together with various organisations that advocate for gender justice.

The government of Zimbabwe, which is a signatory to various conventions that recognise the rights of women, was represented by officials from across the inclusive government led by the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Dr Olivia Muchena, who emphasised the need for a revision of penalties on those who contravene the Domestic Violence Act.

“Stock theft attracts a sentence of 9 years but if someone assaults, murders or rapes a women, they are granted very relaxed penalties. We are saying, as women, we want that revised,” Dr Muchena said.

Musasa Project Director, Netty Musanhu concurred with the Minster’s call for a revision of penalties on perpetrators of domestic violence, sentiments which were also echoed by a representative of Padare Men’s Forum.

“The time has come for women of Zimbabwe to put an end to domestic violence by challenging the status quo with regards to penalties granted to perpetrates of domestic violence,” said Musanhi.

Women constitute 52% of the population in the country and statistics show that most Christians are women hence the call by Reverend Oliver Chipunza of the Apostolic Flame Ministry on church leaders to support government efforts in curbing gender based violence.

“The church should ensure that victims of domestic violence are given the rightful support by educating them about laws that protect them against gender based violence,” said Reverend Chipunza.

Victims of domestic violence were given an opportunity to narrate their ordeals and later a flame of peace was lit in memory of those who died or lost their beloved ones as a result of domestic violence.

Calls were also made for Zimbabweans not to abuse their offices and positions in authority by perpetrating domestic violence.