An Analysis of a Grassroots Perspective on Violence Against Women In Zimbabwe in the Context of the General Discourse on Violence
Tsanga, Amy Shupikai
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In Africa where the majority of the population lives in the rural areas, legal literacy and legal aid are issues of concern as most people cannot afford lawyers and the latter, by and large, operate only in the cities. Taking the law to the people through the training of paralegals and legal literacy workers are some of the strategies which have evolved to try and deal with the situation. In Zimbabwe, an organisation which has taken on the task of bridging the gap between the law and the people is the Legal Resources Foundation.* 1 One of the most important projects undertaken by the Foundation is the Paralegal Scheme which has a legal literacy component in which emphasis is placed on educating people about their rights. Under the legal literacy scheme, community based men and women have received training on various aspects of the law and they in turn pass on the information to the community at large. To assist the legal literacy workers in imparting legal information, pamphlets on topical issues have been produced by the Centre with the assistance of interested lawyers in town who are deemed to have the expertise on particular issues. Some of the topics which have been covered in pamphlets include rape, accident damages, marriage and the law, the legal system of Zimbabwe, the Legal Age of Majority Act, and violence against women. This article examines the topic of violence against women, drawing particularly on the reactions of people to the pamphlet on violence against women.2 The pamphlet dealt with what is generally called domestic violence and was written by a lawyer and women’s activist with victims of domestic violence as a specific target group. The pamphlet was however used to educate the community at large in line with the Foundation’s policy of targeting both men and women. The responses to the pamphlet will be analysed in the context of the present discourse on violence against women, which cover its various aspects ranging from manifestations, effects, causes, responses of the legal system, the health, welfare and community sectors as well as strategics for better action.