Gender Commission probes Zifa sexual abuse scandal
THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has launched investigations into alleged sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation of women in the Zimbabwe football sector.
ZGC chairperson Commissioner Margaret Sangarwe-Mukahanana said over the past few months, sports lovers, football stakeholders and Zimbabweans from all walks of life had been deeply disturbed by allegations of prevalent sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation of women in football.
Comm Sangarwe-Mukahanana said the sad allegations emanated from complaints lodged, particularly by female referees.
“From the onset, we would want to extol these brave women for opening up on these issues regardless the stigmatisation and intimidation which usually ensues when such allegations come to the fore,” she said.
“The complaints indicate the prevalence of endemic discrimination and dehumanisation of women within the football refereeing and the entire football sector as emanating from the fact that for years, the sector has been an enclave of men with limited participation of women.
“The facts indicate the prevalence of gender rights violations like sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and extortion in form of sex for selection, such conduct hinders female participation and performance in sports.
“As a constitutional body mandated to ensure compliance with gender equality values within all the spheres of socio-economic activity, we take these allegations seriously. Full achievement of gender equality should involve full participation of women at parity with men within the sporting sector.”
Comm Sangarwe-Mukahanana said the creation of safe spaces for women and girls to participate without fear of being preyed on, discrimination and dehumanisation by predators who were powerful figures was key to the achievement of gender equality.
She said the role of sport in uniting people, promoting healthy lifestyles and the economic benefits associated with participation could not be overemphasized.
The commission had been a key observer of the challenges in sporting which included corruption, maladministration and a general decay in standards.
“These challenges and the economic downturn which emanate from such pose serious gendered dimensions,” she said.
“Whilst we all hope that the footballing aspects of disputes will be handled conclusively by the various national, regional and international structures, it is our endeavour to deal with allegations of gender violations and commit various duty bearers to the necessary infrastructure needed to promote the full participation of women on the basis of equality with men in the sports field.
“The commission is moving in to investigate the said allegations in terms of its Constitutional functions as codified in section 246 (a-i) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) Act 2013 as read together with part (iii) of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission Act Chapter 10:31.
“These and other legal instruments inclusive of the International Normative Legal Frameworks affords it competence to investigate possible violations of rights relating to gender in reaction to complaints from the public or at its own initiative.”
Comm Sangarwe-Muhanana said the ultimate objective of the investigation was to ensure injustices were remedied and various State and non-State actors involved in football affairs were directed to put measures for the sanitisation of the footballing sector.
“We therefore appeal to members of the public with any information or complaints of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation within the football structures to come make submissions to the Gender Commission,” Commissioner Mukahanana – Sangarwe said.
Meanwhile, the Commission has launched knowledge products to inform stakeholders on topical gender issues.
ZGC unveiled a book which includes “Report on Child Marriages”, “Role of Zimbabwe Gender Commission in ending Child Marriages”, “Women in Politics”, Women in decision making”, Gender Observatory”, Gender Audit” and National Gender Forum Reports (2015 – 2021), aimed at elevating women’s voice from all sectors of influence.Herald.