Police have issued a stern warning against touts and kombi drivers who are in the habit of sexually harassing women at bus termini.
National police spokesperson Charity Charamba told delegates at an indaba against gender-based violence organised by Plan International that they want to increase the visibility of police so they can curb this scourge in public places.
The indaba was part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), whose 2018 theme is “End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work.”
This year’s goal is to continue to target the institutions in which gender-based violence is perpetuated and push for systemic change and accountability.
The campaign takes place every year between November 25 and December 10 and is run by over 6 000 organisations in 187 countries.
“The police are aware of random thefts, touting, uncouth conduct by commuter omnibus drivers that pose danger to the general public and affect women and children in particular, and we are conducting operations to curb such unruly behaviour,” Charamba told the indaba.
She spoke amid widespread concern of sexual harassment by kombi crews, which include among others, making sexually coloured jokes or remarks, unsolicited comments and advances, commenting on a person’s clothes or body structure, touching any part of a person’s body without consent as well as physical harassment.
Women who use public transport grimly accept harassment as part of their daily lives, facing it as soon as they are out of the house.
Charamba said the current thrust in the ZRP is to deploy more police officers for operational duties with a view to increase police visibility in communities.
“This will certainly go a long way in curbing some of these offences. We encourage anyone who is violated in public space to report so that some of these cases are on record,” she said.
Charamba said they are currently carrying out intensive anti-GBV awareness campaigns.
“The awareness campaigns are conducted at primary and secondary schools, institutions of tertiary education, church gatherings and other public fora.
“We also use the print and electronic media to disseminate messages to the public so that they are empowered on the nature of many aspects of GBV, where to report and how to report.
“We have also embraced social media as a vehicle of sharing information with the public.”
Speaking at the same event, Plan International country director Tendai Musonza said their organisation is advocating for safer cities where women can move around without fear.
“What we are advocating for is that we want safer cities. We want to make sure that women are given respect in public places. Violence in public places should not be normalised.”
Another speaker at the event, Legal Resource Foundation representative Perpetua Nyakapiko, said penalties against violence on women in public places must be stiffer.
According to the World Bank, GBV or violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that affects one in three women in their lifetime which translates to 35 percent.
At home, Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency recorded that 8 069 women were raped in 2016 while recent statistics for the first quarter of 2018 released in May this year recorded that 7 394 rape cases were reported in 2017.
These narratives influenced the intense activism against GBV around the country with activists calling for a stop to these barbaric acts.