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Mozambique’s President Vows to Protect Women

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Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi urged the unity of all Mozambicans in the struggle against domestic violence while speaking to reporters. This public announcement occurred on Mozambican Women’s Day shortly after laying a wreath at the monument to the Mozambican Heroes in Maputo.

President Nyusi said the country had made advances in the battle for women’s emancipation, for the promotion of gender equality, and in the fight against such phenomena as child marriages. He added that he is deeply concerned, “at the tragic acts of domestic violence in our society.”

The monument that the president visited before this announcement is dedicated to those who fell during the struggle to liberate the country from Portuguese colonial rule. The president says that their deaths, “do not signify only the past, but also the present, and they will signify the future – the future that we are all building.”

Mozambican Heroes Day is the anniversary of the assassination 47 years ago of Eduardo Mondlane, the founder and first President of Mozambique. With much to grieve on such a historic occasion, President Nyusi remains hopeful and takes this opportunity to bring up the issues he is dedicated to fighting for to better his country.

Along with building up their economy and education system, domestic violence is a huge issue across Africa, not just Mozambique. President Nyusi hopes to honor the work that the Heroes of Mozambique’s revolution started in an effort to create a better life for men and women.

He reaches out to his own people, stressing that domestic violence is an issue that all Mozambicans should be concerned about and actively fight against. Domestic violence is deeply ingrained in the the societal rules we operate under today. In some cases, men benefit from that type of society that takes away from undervalued women and gives more to men.

Urging every single citizen of this earth to take responsibility, President Nyusi continues, “Our appeal is that we should look at domestic violence as a problem that rests on the structure of values that supports the social model in which we live.”

Mozambique, which gained independence from Portugal in 1975, is still suffering from the effects of a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. After a discovery caused a natural gas boom in 2011, Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has a chance to turn its economy around. Still, more than half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.

There have been bills passed previously protecting women from domestic violence, but the countrywide statistics are still alarming. According to the NGO Fórum Mulher (Women’s Forum), 6 out of 10 women in Mozambique are victims of domestic violence.

Statistics seem to be rising; however, the belief is that women are becoming more aware of the issue, therefore higher class women who were less likely to report abuse in the past are now stepping forward.

This violence often culminates in the death of many young women. It is clear that this issue affects everyone regardless of ethnicity or class. Josina Machel, the daughter of the first president of Mozambique Samora Machel, and Valentina Guebuza, daughter of former president Armando Guebuza, were abused by their partners. Guebuza ended up being shot and killed as a result.

The biggest issue is awareness. Breaking the silence and speaking up like President Nyusi is a step in the right direction. As Mozambique’s first president Samora Machel said, “The Emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its continuity and pre-condition for its victory.”

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