Fungisai opens up on showbiz bullying

Gospel singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave said permanent solutions in establishing a safe working environment for both men and women begin at home.

GOSPEL singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave, who has had a fair share of success in the arts industry, recently confessed that she nearly quit music because it was and still is a difficult career path characterised by bullying and harassment.

Speaking at a recently-held breakfast meeting organised by the Diplomat Networking Club under the theme: Creating Safe Spaces For Women, Mashavave said permanent solutions in establishing a safe working environment for both men and women begin at home.

“Discrimination and under-representation have at one time made me decide on making an early retirement. Women composers and performers have often been overlooked, and their works have been sidelined despite them being a cut above the rest,” she told NewsDay Life & Style.

The Makomborero hitmaker said music came with a lot of challenges.

“Music-wise I am one of those people who have been discouraged. We often retreat because of issues to do with harassment. We retract into our shells. We are like sponges whereby at times we sock ourselves with too much negativity,” she said.

“It has not been easy mainly because these types of abuses happen on the backdrop of an endocentric society whereby most of these practices are condoned. I believe the solution begins at home and starts with the whole society. It begins with our communities and then our homes and then we take it up to everywhere including the workspaces.

“We have our social values where people believe that ageism and sexism and sexual harassment are or is the nature of men and their right.  It has been very difficult to deal with and 90% of women experience harassment, but they keep quiet.”

Mashavave said there was a lot of cyberbullying and no female artiste has been spared.

“There is discrimination, stigmatisation and all sorts of attacks. Solutions to establishing gender equality begin with creating awareness to solve these issues and likewise we should bring this to social platforms whereby we should call a spade a spade,” she said.

“Let’s talk about it so that we create a safe environment for every woman in the entertainment industry out there. You know that the problem is awareness. There could be training platforms out there that we are not aware off.

She added: “Let’s help in supporting and building the future for artistes so that they do not reach a point where I am, where I am almost giving up.”

The songbird said her greatest challenge was that people had their own template of who they want her to become or what they wished.

“I have a principle, people have to love me for what I am and not what they want me to become,” she said.

The award-winning Mashavave has more than 16 albums in her discography. Part of her discography includes Zvirevo (2006), Highway (2010), The Prophetic Ancient Voice (2019) and Social Facts (2013).

She formed the Vulnerable Women Development Trust, an organisation geared to challenge gender inequalities.

In pursuit of the event’s Creating Safe Spaces For Women theme, the United Nations (UN) representative Fatou Animata Lo stressed that the UN recognises gender-based violence and sexual harassment as abuse and resultantly it is working on a framework to end the scourge.

“In Zimbabwe, the baseline survey on sexual harassment conducted by the Public Service Commission came to a similar conclusion and further indicated that the majority of perpetrators are yet to be found. The statistics are not only alarming, but they actually call for serious and urgent attention,” she said.

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