The unsung tales of GBV in the world of work

The unsung tales of GBV in the world of work

I am a well known professional lady who has lived under the façade of a happy marriage for 17 years. Whenever my husband gets drunk, he comes violent such that he kicks and punches me in front of our children, forces me to sleep with him and always threatens to kill me. He claims that educated women are stubborn and do not listen or submit to their husbands. At one time, I had to lie to my colleague that I had been attacked by a gang of robbers. I felt sorry for him, I felt sorry for my children. I do not have anyone to turn to. Whenever I tell my parents about this, they tell me not to reveal the messiness of my home to the world. After all, chakafukidza dzimba matenga. A married woman is more honorable than a divorced woman according to our culture. I now find it hard to concentrate at work and this is affecting the quality of my work.

After two years of dating, I finally found the strength to leave my abusive boyfriend. From the outside, he looked well put together but on the inside he was the devil’s agent! He came to my workplace to harass and threaten me and always caused a scene. He stalked me and threatened every person I would talk to. Did I mention that I nearly lost my life one I decided to leave him? I had applied for a Protection Order against him and it was granted. Days later, he paid me an unexpected visit at my home. He always used to say that if he cannot have me then no one else will. He poured petrol on me and on my 2 year old son and set us alight. I survived with burns and permanent ugly scars but my son’s little soul succumbed to the pain and damage. Death separated us. He committed suicide. He denied me my justice and his actions took away the life of my son!

I lost my job in a well accredited firm because I rejected my female boss’s sexual advancements towards me. She then framed a case against me stating that I had embezzled company funds. I was asked to return the money and to further resign from the job. Fearing going to jail as I knew that I was dealing with a powerful and well connected woman, I decided to sell my most prized possessions so as to give her the money she claimed I had stolen. I would rather have my freedom. As for the money, one day my God will fight for me.

I am a young woman who is also a mother to two beautiful children. When my husband who was the sole breadwinner died, his family rejected me and my children and took all of our possessions. I got a job as a maid in the city and I was excited to be finally financially able to cater for my children’s needs. I did not know that I was walking straight into the lion’s den I was raped repeatedly by my boss and he would constantly threaten to kill me if I ever reported. I fell pregnant for my boss and I lost my job in the process when his wife found out. She does not understand me at all. She thinks that I was having an affair with her husband yet I fell prey to his unchaste desires. Now I carry three little innocent lives in my heart and in my hands despite the fact that I feel resentment towards my life.

I am a young married professional who was interning at a good company. I fell pregnant within the first year of working there. Though this was some exciting personal news, my pregnancy did not sit well with my boss. Every little mistake I would do was accompanied by hurting comments. He would say it was not his problem that I decided to get pregnant whilst I was still establishing my career and would disregard doctors orders by stating that the doctor was not his boss and if I needed to keep my job I had to work and this involved lifting heavy documents and boxes and walking long distances to go and pick up various documents at different offices. I fell gravely ill and lost my baby to high blood pressure. To make matters worse, I was forced to resign from the job. I have lost everything that was so dear to me. My husband is unforgiving about what happened to me and this has raised tensions in our home.

All the above stories plus a million more reflect the many faces of GBV which occur in the world of work. However, although both men and women experience GBV at work, the most affected by it are women and their stories are shaped by their socioeconomic statuses influenced by their sexuality, position at work and immigration status in some circumstances. GBV occurring elsewhere, particularly in the home spills over into the workplace as the affected individual loses concentration at work and is prone to performing poorly at work, stigma and discrimination and this results in the individual losing their job.

Let us stop GBV and  make the workplace a safe realm for all lives!


Re-visiting the Story Of ‘Neria’ 25 Years Later

Re-visiting the Story Of ‘Neria’ 25 Years Later

Re-visiting the Story Of ‘Neria’ 25 Years Later

In relation to the inheritance rights of Women And Children In Zimbabwe`

Kufirwa nemurume hanzvadzi (When a husband dies my sister) Zvinoda moyo wekushinga (It calls for a strong willed heart) Usawore moyo ka Neria (Don’t be disheartened Neria) Mwari anewe (God is with you) Oliver Mtukudzi, Neria he film Neria was a well-crafted Zimbabwean film which zoomed in on the inheritance rights of women and children in Zimbabwe.

Being the highest grossing film in Zimbabwean history, it captivated both the local and international audience. It focused on the life of the protagonist Neria, who was a young modern woman whose husband died in a car accident.
Taking advantage of Neria’s grief, her late husband’s older brother Phineas selfishly took everything that Neria and her husband Patrick had worked for. At the end of the film, the audience saw Neria regaining custody of her children and her husband’s property through the assistance of a lawyer. This gave Neria the heroine status that she is still know for today in Zimbabwean film and media. However, it has been 25 years since the film Neria aired on national television but it is still alarming to see the number of widows who are still going through the same fate as the protagonist Neria, but without the happy ending. In many parts of Zimbabwe,women and their children are often excluded from inheriting from their husband’s estates and such property stripping/ property grabbing is driving widows into extreme poverty. The patriarchal nature of some of our Zimbabwean customs is still upholding the belief that a woman does not inherit anything after her husband dies- especially if he dies intestate. This is known to emanate from a history dating as back as the colonial period whereby female oppression was prevalent. Just as there was belief of not educating the female child because she would go off to get married, women were regarded as having no capacity to act as consenting adults who were capable of owning property or even entering into enforceable contracts. Despite the fact that Zimbabwean law has remarkably made a constitutional provision highlighting that women are equal in status with men before the law and further guaranteeing that women and children should be accommodated for in inheritance matters, many women and children are struggling to claim these rights for the following reasons: If it is an unregistered customary marriage, the challenge lies in proving the marriage.

Doing so is difficult as courts can require confirmation from the widow’s in-laws who are the very people who stand to benefit if the marriage is not confirmed. Till date, there is resounding belief that the laws that currently govern marriages and deceased persons estates in Zimbabwe are to the advantage of those in civil marriages (Chapter 5:11) and those in registered customary marriages (Chapter 5:07). Unfortunately, the majority of marriages in Zimbabwe fall under unregistered customary marriages. A significant number of cases which are prevalent in the ruralareas are due to the lack of legal knowledge. Some societies (although no longer the norm) still believe in the inheritance of the widow and the deceased person’s estate (kugarwa nhaka). So many women who fallunder this category are not aware
of the rights that they possess.Those who are successful in warding off intimidation tactics by their in-laws face procedural difficulties as court fees are exorbitant and are deterrence such that some widows would require proceeds from their property to pay for the cost of the proceedings. Others have to travel from afar to resolve issues with the deceased’s estate and with the current prevailing economic climate some choose not to continue with the process. Conclusively, the above issues highlight that there is still a lot of work to do with regard to reforming inheritance laws in Zimbabwe so that widows, despite the type of marriage they are contracted to, are protected from greedy
relatives. The harmonisation of our marriage laws together with those dealing with the administration of the deceased’s estates will surely guarantee a fairy-tale ending to our widows and their children’s plight and will ultimately reflect the purpose and will of the Constitution. Although it has been 25 years since the film Neria aired, we can safely say that there are many Nerias out there who are also waiting for their happy ending and many subscribe to the lyrics of the song Neria by popular artist Oliver Mtukudzi.

By Michelle