University of Pittsburgh
September 15, 2011

Pitt to Host International Conference on Human Rights Violations, Social Injustice in Zimbabwe

Contact:  412-624-4147

 

PITTSBURGH—While Zimbabwean women and girls are rarely called upon to physically fight in the country’s internal or external conflicts, they suffer as victims of politically motivated sexual violence.

In an effort to compile additional data, increase awareness, and bring about change, the University of Pittsburgh will host an international conference titled “Silent No More: Rape as a Weapon of Political Violence” from Sept. 17 through Sept. 20 in the School of Education Colloquium Room, 5604 Posvar Hall, 230 S. Bouquet St., Oakland.

The conference seeks to accomplish the following:

  • Review current literature and enhance existing data on issues relating to trauma, mental health, HIV, and AIDS among Zimbabwean rape survivors;
  • Develop policy and practices that address not only physical and emotional needs but also the self-efficacy of rape survivors; and
  • Establish an interdisciplinary partnership among conference presenters.

Annamore M. Matambanadzo, research associate and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, a native of Zimbabwe and and conference organizer, said the conference will explore the social, medical, and psychological impact the survivors of sexual violence experience.

“Zimbabwean women of all ages are targeted because of their political affiliations or the affiliations of their family members and friends,” said Matambanadzo. “These women are abducted from their homes and workplaces and are raped, tortured, and beaten. Local police and national leaders have ignored the pleas to end the violence. A lack of action to address these cases will continue to promote a culture of impunity in Zimbabwe.”

The interdisciplinary conference will provide a forum for voices from international perspectives and feature keynote speakers, including Senator Sekai M. Holland, minister of state in the Zimbabwe Prime Minister’s Office; Gabriel Shumba, executive director and human rights lawyer for the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum in South Africa; Betty Makoni, CEO and founder of the Girl Child Network Worldwide; Alan Martin, research director for Partnership Africa Canada; and Nancy Phaswana-Mafuy, director of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance and professor at Nelson Mandela Metro University in South Africa.

Sponsors for the event include Pitt’s Global Studies Center, Department of Family Medicine, Department of Africana Studies, Center for Minority Health, Department of Administration and Policy Studies, Institute for International Studies in Education, and Black Women and Health Outreach for Longer Life and Empowerment.

The conference is funded by the Kabak Fellowship, which is administered through Pitt’s University Center for International Studies. Babette Kabak (A&S ’39), the fund’s namesake, worked as an activist for women’s legal rights in South Africa. Kabak’s contributions to South African women’s rights includes the co-convening of the Women’s Legal Status Committee in 1979, which monitored South African legislation affecting women of all ethnic groups, and the Women’s Lobby in 1991, which promoted the inclusion of women politicians in negotiations between the South African government and the African National Congress.  

The conference is free and open to the public. To register online, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/SilentNoMore2011. For more information, contact Matambanadzo at 412-383-2359 or ammst101@pitt.edu.

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9/14/11/mab/lks

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