‘Mash Central women  accept violence’

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HALF of the women, aged between 15 and 49, in Mashonaland Central believe that physical violence against them is acceptable, a global humanitarian and developmental aid organisation has claimed.

According to the Spotlight Initiative report authored by the United Nations in conjunction with the government of Zimbabwe shows that more still needs to be done to end gender-based violence in the country.

“Fifty percent of women (15-49 years) in Mashonaland Central in Zimbabwe believe that physical violence against women is acceptable,” the report said.

Mashonaland Central is followed by Manicaland with 43,5 percent of women between 15 and 49 years who believe that physical violence against them is acceptable. It was also reported that Harare women are more empowered in terms of gender-based violence with only 27,3 percent accepting physical violence against them.

In carrying out the study, the researchers selected five provinces — Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Manicaland, Matabeleland South and Harare — based on a set of Sexual  and Gender-Based Violence(SGBV), harmful practices, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV indicators.

“The districts selected in each province are the most impoverished districts in each province based on 2015 Poverty Atlas data. A total of 21 districts and two large urban settlements in Harare province were selected,” reads the report.

The report claims more than half of women in Mashonaland West (52,5percent) have experienced some form of gender-based violence followed by Manicaland with 47,8 percent, Harare 44,5 percent, Mashonaland Central 41,1 percent and Matabeleland South being the least among the selected provinces with 32,4 percent.

Almost half of the women in Manicaland (49,9 percent) have never sought help or told someone after experiencing gender-based violence followed by Mashonaland West’s 42,9 percent, Matabeleland South has 41,2percent with the least being Harare women with 35,6 percent.

Mashonaland Central, according to the report, has 39,1 percent of women aged between 15 and 19 years who are currently married or in union followed by Mashonaland West with 31,3 percent with the least being Matabeleland South with 11,1 percent.

“The national average for women’s experience of any form of SGBV is 45 percent and younger women are more vulnerable to SGBV in Intimate Partner relationships. Empowering adolescent girls and young women to know and demand their SRHR will be an important focus for the SI initiative in Zimbabwe,” reads the report.

The Spotlight Initiative was launched last year in June by the government, the European Union and the United Nations to assist women and girls realise their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive Zimbabwe.

At the launch, President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged girls and women to open up on all forms of violence.

“Violence against women and girls often goes unreported and is usually concealed within families. My government is committed through the Spotlight Initiative to put in place measures that will unmask the challenge and enable policy makers to realise that the issue has negative impact on Gross Domestic Product and national development that needs to be dealt with swiftly,” said Mnangagwa then.

The European Union committed US$34 million for the Spotlight Initiative, which was implemented by UN in partnership with the ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and civil society organisations.

“The Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative country programme targets directly and indirectly 11 million beneficiaries particularly rural women and girls, women and girls living with disabilities, and women living with HIV.”

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