Gender Based Violence increases in Zimbabwe

Gender Based Violence increases in Zimbabwe


Date: June 1, 2020
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By Memory Nkwe

Bulawayo, 30 May : Zimbabwe has witnessed a spike in Gender Based Violence cases following Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) stay-at-home- lockdown measures announced by the Zimbabwe government in line with World Health Organisations’ recommendations to curb the spread of the disease.

The lockdown, initially set to be 21 days long, has now become indefinite with the government announcing that it will not rush to lift it as they will remain guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Women’s right’s lobby groups  expressed concern over the lack of urgency by the government to lift the lock down after receiving complaints over  an increase in cases of domestic violence.

According to organisations such as Msasa Project and Zimbabwe Gender Commission the cases were influenced by several factors ranging from depleted incomes, loss of social comfort, new lifestyles, and physical violence all induced by the ripple effects of Covid 19.

Precious Taru, the director of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, said there has been an unjustified increase in gender based cases since the national lockdown. Compared to the same period last year, there has been a 50 percent increase GBV cases, Taru said.

“As things stands from March to date we have recorded 764 cases across various platforms that we use to obtain information. The figure is still high as we record more than 500 cases a month,” she said.

“It also emerged with prominence that most cases were linked to depleted income which could not be replenished as most companies failed to pay their workers’ salaries. Even after easing the lock down most people remained incapacitated as they had no means to make money.

“This translated to loss of social comfort within families resulting in social, emotional and physical violence. The violence has not only been of married couples but on individuals who habitat in the same environment. “

Bulawayo based gender expect,  Mellisa Ndlovu, the programs manager at Emthonjeni Women’s forum, echoed the same sentiments in noting an increase in GBV cases since the lockdown measures were announced.

“Most economic challenges that are being experienced in many households are leading to Physical, emotional abuse on some women and children being chased from their homes. The beginning of the lockdown saw an increase of gender based violence cases shooting up and were directly linked to the pandemic lockdown,” she said.

Ndlovu further added that, the lockdown has presented extra economic and social pressures that stimulate violence. Women and children become outlets of misplaced anger and aggression, she added

“A lot is happening without being reported. In Zimbabwe police have said people can report cases such as of domestic violence to their nearest police station but some find it difficult to do so when they are locked down in the same house with their tormentors,” said Ndlovu.

 

Another media/gender expect, Mrs Sibusisiwe Bhebhe of Bulawayo Women’s media for development foundation expressed no surprise over an increase GBV cases in Zimbabwe during the Covid-19 lockdown as with “the economic problems people face some men tend to vent out their frustrations on women and children they live with at home.”

She encouraged the victims to seek the services of non-governmental organisations for psycho-social support and or report directly to the police for immediate relief.

Mrs Bhebhe also called on “community gatekeepers to put hands together and rescue those vulnerable girls and young women who are locked up in abusive marriages and family set ups as they have no power the free themselves.

“Furthermore, women with scarce resources to take care of their family needs are further exposed to emotional violence as to how they would deal with their biology related issues.  As a result some women would get abused to receive a few dollars so that they could take care of their needs. This rendered them as prostitutes in an effort to restore their well-being,” she said.

 

Governments struggling to respond to the Coronavirus epidemic have failed to respond to this spill over effect and to a similar crisis affecting vulnerable children with increased services that cater to those at risk. This has left domestic violence response centres overwhelmed by the heightened demands on their services. Globally, almost 250 million women and girls between the ages of fifteen and forty nine suffer physical or sexual violence at the hands of their intimate partners each year.

 

Virginia Brown, of Women in Action urged women to understand that gender based violence is not only physical, but emotional and psychological. As most people who are affected by it some of them might not even know that its violence they will simple equate to suffering and fail to report.

“We have plenty cases in the country were women do not have adequate knowledge as to what gender based violence is. As a result they can’t even report the challenges there are facing as they have equated it to the struggles. Especially emotional and psychological violence goes in many family units undetected. It is imperative for families to work together in these trying times and reduce the pandemic,” she said.

Meanwhile the Gender Commission has called on the Government, private sector and other service providers who are involved to remain cognisant of the gendered implications in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the response measures.

“Gender expertise should be integrated into response teams that are being deployed to ensure that the needs of women and children are fully considered, among those of other social groups. Lastly, it is critical to ensure equal voice for women in decision making in the COVID-19 response and long-term impact planning, read the statement.


3 thoughts on “Gender Based Violence increases in Zimbabwe”

Kundai chirova says:

I believe there is still a lot of educating that is needed and also offices that deal with issues of gender based violence should be made available in every area atleast 3km especially in rural areas if its possible so that people dont walk long distances to get help and also some of the questions that the police officers ask its so discouraging though.

Tanya says:

While police officers can be easily ‘coerced’ into believing a false narrative given by the abuser, reporting GBV could endanger the life of the victim further rather than protecting them as should be the case.

Yvonne says:

My husband emotionally abuses me but today he came drunk and beat me up till I blacked out holding a 3 month old baby whilst my sone 8 and daughter 6 watched in tears.

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