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GBV cases soar during lockdown

by Daniel Itai in Harare Zimbabwe
11 May 2020 at 16:34hrs | Views
It's been over a month since the southern African country initiated a nationwide lockdown which has seen many being locked indoors.
Although, the country's government has argued that the lockdown is a measure which is meant to flatten the COVID-19 curve which it seems to be doing as evidenced by the low number of infections and mortality rate, the social spectrum of the country has been greatly affected.
To date, more than 1 500 cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases have been recorded by GBV organizations such as Musasa and Padare.

"This lockdown has come as a heavy blow to the safety of many women and girls. This is because perpetrators and victims are staying under one roof all day long. Women and girls are not only exposed or vulnerable but they are actually being abused. The homes become an incubation hub of violence.

The high number of gender-based violence cases against women and girls that we are getting is a clear indication of the existence of inequality amongst our society. Musasa has received a total of 1 312 cases of gender based violence as of 30 April 2020 since the beginning of the lockdown.

The inequality is mainly caused by the difference in physical strength and financial capacity between men and women. Generally, men are the breadwinners and also naturally, they are physically strong. As such, women and girls are in most cases subjected to violence as a result of the above-mentioned few factors. GBV threats continue to intensify in scale and scope while the population is exposed to cumulative food insecurity. The lockdown's restrictive measures have impacted on the women and girls' ability to access basic family resources thereby generating an increase of tensions within the household. This is also leading to increased risks of exposure to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as well as to sexual exploitation and abuse," said Precious Taru, director of Musasa.

Co-director of Adult Rape Clinic Memory Pamela Kadau said there was urgent need for government to intervene in the issue of GBV, "the lockdown has exacerbated GBV in Zimbabwe. Most cases of GBV that are reported take place within the home. In addition, lockdown measures such as confinement and restricted movement are making it difficult for some survivors to access services. It is unfortunate that for some home is not a safe place.

There is an urgent need for government to acknowledge that GBV is a public health emergency and public policy issue. The government must increase the stimulus package to address GBV by ensuring that more support goes to shelters, law enforcement and provision of medical and psycho-social support services. The private sector must also be engaged and involved to provide platforms for discussing GBV issues.
Law enforcement agencies must convey a strong message that violence will not be tolerated, and perpetrators will be punished. All stakeholders including national institutions must be vigilant and take additional measures responsive to the lived realities of women and girls in Zimbabwe."

Abigail Mawonde information and advocacy officer for youths lobby group, SAYWHAT also acknowledged the heightened number of GBV cases, "the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown has created a number of challenges on youths in Zimbabwe.  Given the lockdown, youths have little or no access to youth friendly services where they can get psychosocial support like counseling, and edutainment. The lockdown has created more stress amongst youths who live in abusive environments."

For LEAD president, Linda Masarira who is a former victim of GBV, little is being done to curb GBV cases in the country, "I feel like I have broken barriers, if I was a weak character I would have broken down and quit activism and politics. Fortunately, I no longer view myself as a victim, when I look at what I have been through from rape, torture, GBV and being a target for hate speech, I realize that women are failing to occupy spaces because of fear of the unknown, fear of being insulted, ridiculed or shamed. Our situation becomes complex because women in our country are patriarchal gatekeepers and in most cases are more patriarchal than the men themselves.

Unfortunately our government and civic societies havent done enough to curb GBV. Our civic society is hypocritical, unending workshops in hotels don't curb GBV, they meet time and again in hotels with the same people, yet GBV cases continue to escalate. The tragedy in our country is that GBV issues have been commercialized and used by some civic society to make money. More needs to be done to reach out to the grassroots and empower women to know their rights and protect them. We need stiff penalties for GBV perpetrators."
For any GBV cases please contact:

Adult Rape Clinic at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Ward C9.
Toll free: 08004401
Cell: 0775672770
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube: @AdultRapeClinic

Musasa
Toll free: 08080074
WhatsApp: 0775442300
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @MUSASAZIM


Source - Daniel Itai in Harare Zimbabwe

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