Safe market launched in Epworth

THE government in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday launched a safe market for women in Epworth as part of wider economic empowerment programmes aimed at addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, deputy minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Jennipher Mhlanga said lack of economic empowerment in women and girls was one of the factors leading to GBV hence the design of the safe market, a place women would safely sell their wares.

“We recognise that women are caregivers to the children at home hence empowering them would mean empowering the girl child. 

“When these women come to the safe market to work, they would be in a position to empower their children, provide, take them to school and shun child rape,” Mhlanga said.

The one-stop centre would also go a long way in ensuring that victims of GBV will confidentially receive all the help they need under one roof.

“The one-stop centre is the sixth of its kind with other five in various provinces. Survivors will have health, legal, police and counselling services. 

“We are very grateful for this critical support that we continue to receive through UNFPA which shall save the lives of women and girls.”

She raised concern about the prevalence of child marriages, including prostitution of children.

“The government has noted with great concern the increase of child marriages, which I would call rape, in the context of Covid-19. 

“Child rape is a practice that infringes the rights of the children and deprives the child of opportunities to attain aspirations like education and a decent healthy life. 

“The 2012 census indicated that 56 799 children aged 15 to 17 were married, with a greater proportion of girls having been married than boys.

“The reality of sexual harassment reduces women and girls freedom of movement. It reduces their ability to participate in school, work and in public life.

“ It limits their access to essential services and their enjoyment of cultural and recreational activities and negatively impacts their health and wellbeing.”