GBV costing Zim big time

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AS THE country’s economic woes continue to bite, it has also emerged that Zimbabwe is losing billions of American dollars yearly due to its high incidences of sexual and other gender-based violence (SGBV), the Daily News reports.

This comes as Zimbabwe is struggling to meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets — which were adopted by all United Nations (UN) members in 2015, as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

The country representative for UN Women Zimbabwe, Delphine Semaga, told delegates yesterday that are attending the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (AFRFSD) here that SGBV had major costs on all economies.

“According to research, Zimbabwe lost US$2 billion in 2009 as a result of SGBV.

“What we need to understand is that during this time, Zimbabwe was coming from a highly unstable economic situation which contributed towards the high cost of SGBV, because economic instability is a major driver of SGBV,” she told delegates during a plenary discussion.

“Right now, we are currently in that highly unstable economic environment and we have seen cases of SGBV going up.

“As such, Zimbabwe is most certainly losing more than US$2 billion which was being lost over 11 years ago, because SGBV still remains as a major challenge that needs to be dealt with,” Semaga added.

“Due to the economic difficulties that the country is currently facing, the economy has become so informal and that informal sector is mainly dominated by women.

“Women are working as street vendors and cross boarder traders, and this exposes them to harassment and sexual exploitation in some cases as they try to make ends meet in a very difficult economic environment,” she said further.

On her part, the chairperson of the Anti-Domestic Violence Council, Eunice Njovani, said failure to end SGBV meant that sustainable development would not be achieved.

“SGBV cuts across different sectors. It has a negative impact on mental and physical health, as well as on production.

“This therefore means that if we fail to end this scourge, we will not be able to achieve sustainable development.

“I believe we (in Zim) need to have more commitment in terms of channelling resources to ensure that women and young girls who are violated have the appropriate supporting structures like shelters and income-generating projects for self-dependence,” Njovani said.

The country director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Hopolang Pororo, said there was need not only to promote awareness of what sexual harassment was at workplaces, but also structures which women could use to report such cases.

“Many women suffer in silence at the workplace, not because they are afraid of speaking out but … they do not know which channels to use when they have been violated.

“We need to set up structures where women can feel comfortable and supported to speak up against sexual harassment at the workplace,” Pororo said.

Sindiso Mhlophe
in Victoria Falls

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