BULAWAYO councillors recently turned down an application by Musasa Project, a non-governmental organisation which provides support services to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism by displaying women’s undergarments on the streets.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The 16 Days of Activism is an international campaign against GBV that is commemorated annually from November 25 to December 10.
The Musasa Project in its application to the BCC said displaying ladies’ panties along Leopold Takawira Avenue, Herbert Chitepo Street and Lobengula Street was to demonstrate the magnitude of rape and GBV cases in the country.
“We are requesting to display women’s laundry by lining underwear up along tall buildings in the street mentioned above in solidarity with the survivors of rape and sexual violence under the national theme on “Sexual Harassment in the Work place”.
“Each underwear will be representing the girls and women survivors of rape,” reads the letter to the BCC dated November 1 and signed by Netty Musanhu, the Musasa Project executive director.
At least 22 women are raped daily in Zimbabwe, according to official data based on cases reported to the police.
Musanhu, in the application, said the displayed undergarments would have been accompanied by messages against rape, GBV and to “encourage survivors to break the silence and seek help”.
However, latest council minutes show that city fathers turned down the proposed display on grounds that it was “a taboo, violation of societal values and principles, and an invasion of cultural norms”.
“It was, therefore, resolved that the request by Musasa Project for space at the Lobengula Street Mall to have women’s laundry undergarments displayed as part of its commemorations of 16 days of activism against GBV from 20th November, 2018 to 10th December, 2018, be not acceded to as this was considered a taboo and would be against societal norms and principles in Bulawayo,” council minutes read.
To make gender-based violence more visible, Musasa Project, in collaboration with the Netherlands Embassy, launched a campaign in Gweru, Masvingo, Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare to hang skirts on a laundry line in public.
Only Bulawayo refused permission for the display.