Background of the Story of the Rocks
The emergence of a viable opposition party in 2000, that seriously challenged the dominance of the ruling party in urban and rural areas, created situations where politically motivated violence became rampant in most parts of the country.
Violence erupted preceding national elections that took place in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008 and their aftermath. Intimidation and physical violence targeted rural women mostly to instill fear in them to induce them to vote for the ruling party to enable the party to retain its rural vote.
As the ruling party lost more and more support in rural areas, violence escalated. Despite the provision of free food, grain and farm implements before the 2008 elections, the opposition party gained more votes resulting in senior members of ruling party losing their parliamentary seats in a number of provinces. As a result, the period before the run off of the elections was marked by extensive violence torture and internal displacement of the electorate, unlawful killing of civilians, destruction of livelihoods, abductions, destruction of villages and property, looting of livestock, grains and property believed to be supporters of opposition candidates.
During the 2008 elections, AWC with other women's organisations continued with victim support and protection activities. AWC again, evacuated affected women to places of safety and at one time also used its offices to accommodate other women.
Women in Zimbabwe are highly affected by negative cultural practices that lie within a patriarchal societal system. This has affected women's access to economic resources hence a high level of poverty amongst them as opposed to their male counterparts.
Women in Zimbabwe are highly affected by negative cultural practices that lie within a patriarchal societal system. They also fell victim to various forms of Gender Based Violence, particularly rape during the 2008 elections.
Women in Zimbabwe also fell victim to various forms of Gender Based Violence, particularly rape during the 2008 elections and majority did not access Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) or other medical treatment needed for victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV). This contributed to an increase in the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, with women forming the majority of people living with HIV.
Lack of support
The fact that men are the perpetrators in most cases of violence is a reflection of how the patriarchal nature of rural communities that bestows power on men, has resulted in violence against women and other forms of GBV. Women who have experienced severe forms of violence such as rape may be reluctant to bring out their issues for fear of being ridiculed by the community and the reaction of their husbands to their bringing issues, deemed to be private to the fore.
Due to lack of support for women by men, perpetrators of violence are left to freely roam around in the community and they do not realize the intensity of their actions on their victims. In most cases, the perpetrators include male politicians who pay male youths to terrorise women. Justice for women is difficult to arrive at since they are fewer women to debate women's issues in Parliament hence less gender-sensitive policies and laws are enacted.
Due to lack of support for women by men, perpetrators of violence are left to freely roam around in the community and they do not realize the intensity of their actions on their victims. In most cases, the perpetrators include male politicians who pay male youths to terrorise women.
In most cases, seeds of violence are sown within the home during the socialization process where boys are taught on promoting harsh masculinity at the expense of being gentlemen. As grown men, they encourage each other to demonstrate their masculinity by abusing women, particularly sexually, as women are viewed as sexual objects that are key elements to men's sexual conquests. Resultantly, male participation is also low in community peace building activities as well as Peace building Committees. Community leaders, who are also the custodians of culture, uphold the values of patriarchy as the basis of social order.