Domestic violence on the increase


Sindiso Mhlophe


THE national Gender-Based Violence (GBV) hotline has recorded a 90 percent increase in cases of violence since the beginning of the national lockdown introduced to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19).

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Zimbabwe (OCHA) said the hotline was set up by various women’s organisations including OCHA, Msasa Project and UN Women in efforts to offer assistance to victims of GBV during the lockdown. 

In a statement, OCHA Zimbabwe said that GBV threats have continued to intensify as the population is exposed to degenerating food insecurity, compounded by economic hardship and the Covid-19 movement restriction measures.

“GBV exacerbation continues to be recorded, as an indirect consequence of Covid-19 infection, prevention and control measures.

“The extended lockdown continues to impact on women’s and girls’ ability to access basic family resources, for example fetching water, accessing food, generating an increase of tensions within the household, which leads to increased risks of exposure to intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse.

“The national GBV Hotline has recorded a total of 1 494 cases from the beginning of the lockdown on March 30 until May 5, with an overall increase of over 90 percent compared to the pre-lockdown trends.

“About 94 percent of the cases are women. The most dominant forms are physical violence, with 38 per cent of total cases and psychological violence with 38 percent, followed by economic violence which has 19 per cent and sexual violence with 5 per cent. About 90 per cent of cases are  intimate partner violence cases,” OCHA said.

OCHA further said that as a result of the extended interruption of the informal sector activities, increased cases of neglect were being recorded among women who are unable to provide food for their partners.

According to United Nations Women, Zimbabwe has been losing over US$2 billion per year as a result of sexual and gender-based violence.

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