By Staff Reporter
Chirumanzu legislator Barbara Rwodzi has pleaded with the Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi to protect female legislators from verbal gender-based violence they are getting from male legislators in the National Assembly.
The verbal abuses are said to be part of the bottlenecks that have been preventing female legislators from effectively participating in debates and other issues in Parliament.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Honourable Rwodzi said as Parliament joins the nation in commemorating the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, there is need to protect female legislators from the abusive male legislators who are verbally abusing them.
“On behalf of the women Parliamentarians in this House, I rise to seek protection against verbal gender-based violence in this House. Women in this Parliament are becoming unproductive due to the verbal gender-based violence that we suffer here.
“As such, as women, we are asking your good office to protect us and to take stern measures against all-male Parliamentarians that use verbal gender-based violence against us,” she said.
Honourable Rwodzi’s sentiments were also echoed by Proportional Representation legislator Jasmine Toffa who added that indeed female members are being abused in Parliament by their male counterparts.
“I will speak to an incident that has been happening to me. I will refer to an incident that took place last week in the presence of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and leader of the House Hon. Ziyambi, where a Member of Parliament Hon. Paradza abused me from across the floor talking to our Hon. Member P.D. Sibanda saying “urikuitei na Hon. Toffa avo vakarambwa nemurume, vakatorerwa murume na Hon. Mamombe.”
“This has been going on for some time and as they laugh, even some of the ladies in our Parliament are actually involved. I am looking into the faces as I speak. As Members of Parliament, it ends up attacking your confidence in Parliament and you find it very difficult to speak.
“So we seek your protection, in particular, this past week Madam Speaker, there was a story with regards to one of our own panel of the Speaker who is a woman and other Hon. Members like Hon. Tabitha Khumalo. In the end, when we walk around our constituencies we walk around in shame. So, I think it is very important that the air is cleared. We seek an investigation so that as women we can clear our names,” she said.
This is no the first time that female legislators have complained about abuse in the National Assembly as Honourable Joanah Mamombe and Honourable Lynette Karenyi has also issued complained earlier their this year.