My Op-Ed is on the violation of sexual rights of marginalized groups such as HIV+ women, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gays, Transgender, Inter-sex (LBGTI), sex workers and women with mental health problems in Zimbabwe.
I work with minority groups in ensuring that the government of Zimbabwe recognises their sexual rights which include the right of all persons, free of coercision, discrimination and violence, to the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services; seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality, sexuality education, respect for bodily integrity, choose their partner; decide to be sexually active or not; consensual sexual relations; consensual marriage; decide whether or not, and when, to have children; and pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.
This op-ed is important because the Ministry of health, civic society and the private sector gathered in August 2009 to assess progress in achieving goals set in the Maputo Plan of Action (MpoA) of achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health services in Africa by 2015. Zimbabwe is currently using the National Maternal and Neonatal Health Road Map (2007-2015) to achieve the goals set in the MPoA (2006).
The Zimbabwe National Maternal and Neonatal Health Road Map is narrow and fails to recognize sexual rights. The road map is not comprehensive and rights of minority groups such as LGBTI are not recognized because of President Mugabe’s famous speech on homosexuality – “…they are worse than pigs and dogs,” said President Mugabe. President Mugabe’s iron fist has instilled fear in people and this makes it difficult for minority groups to advocate for their sexual rights without experiencing harassment, violence, stigma and discrimination. The country does not have laws to protect minority groups and where the law gives rights to minority groups, the law id interpreted using the president’s stance on certain issues such as safe abortion, same sex marriage and decriminalising sex work.