The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has commenced investigations into alleged sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation of women in football.
This comes after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) board led by Felton Kamambo on a litany of allegations including failure to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse of female referees.
SRC chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa on Thursday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Sport that since the suspension of the ZIFA board on 16 November 2021, the commission has discovered more cases of sexual harassment against female referees. He said:
Initially, we had three complaints of sexual harassment but investigations revealed that sexual harassment was insidious. There was sex for games. Sleep with me and I will give you a game.
ZGC chairperson Commissioner Margaret Sangarwe-Mukahanana commended the women who were brave enough to open up on sexual abuse and harassment in the football sector considering that such issues involve stigmatisation and intimidation. Said Sangarwe-Mukahanana:
The complaints indicate the prevalence of endemic discrimination and dehumanisation of women within the football refereeing and the entire football sector as emanating from the fact that for years, the sector has been an enclave of men with limited participation of women.
The facts indicate the prevalence of gender rights violations like sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and extortion in form of sex for selection, such conduct hinders female participation and performance in sports.
She appealed to members of the public with information or complaints of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation within the football structures to make submissions to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission.