A socio-legal analysis of the harassment of women by bus or taxi rank marshals on the basis of their dress in Harare, Zimbabwe
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In its General Recommendation Number 19, the CEDAW Committee stated that violence against women is a form of discrimination since it violates their right to equality. The Committee recommended states to take legislative and administrative measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. The Protocol to African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights on the Rights of Women in Africa obliges states to punish the perpetrators of violence against women and implement programmes for the rehabilitation of victims. It is in light of the above human rights framework that this study sought to analyse the adequacy of the Zimbabwean laws to protect women from violence that takes place in the public sphere. The study particularly zeroes in on the harassment of women by bus or taxi rank marshals (including the drivers and conductors of privately owned commuter omnibuses or taxis) because of the way that they are dressed. The study found out that the harassment of women by bus rank marshals is all about their power and desire to control women’s sexuality. Culture is simply used as a scapegoat to harass women. The grounded research showed that the harassment of women takes many forms which include indecent assault, verbal abuse, dousing them with urine and obstructing their movement. Despite the fact that the Zimbabwe’s Criminal Code prohibits the above forms of violence, police officers do not arrest the perpetrators due to stereotypes and negative attitudes about women. It was one of the findings that non-governmental organisations that deal with women’s rights have not adequately responded to the cases of harassment of women by rank marshals. The study concludes that the current legal framework is not adequate to protect women from gender based violence that takes place in the public sphere. The Criminal Code does not take into account the gendered nature of the offence. Current laws do not recognise that the harassment of women is a form of discrimination and, as such, the remedies provided are not tailor made to suit the victim’s needs. The study recommends the criminalisation of all forms of harassment against women whether they take place in the public and private sphere. The current laws should be aligned with Section 52(a) of the Constitution which provides for the right to freedom from violence from both public and private sources. The Domestic Violence Act needs to be amended to widen its scope to cover acts of gender based violence that take place in the public sphere and among people who are not related. The study also recommends that a multi-sectoral approach should be taken to curb the harassment of women by rank marshals. The constant training of police officers to be gender sensitive is imperative so that the law is implemented.
Additional Citation InformationMukumbiri, P. (2014). A socio-legal analysis of the harassment of women by bus or taxi rank marshals on the basis of their dress in Harare, Zimbabwe (Unpublished master's thesis), University of Zimbabwe, Harare.
University of Zimbabwe
Subjectviolence against women
discrimination against women
Zimbabwe laws protecting women