SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE country yesterday joined the rest of the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), with the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) calling for stiffer penalties against perpetrators of violence against women and children.
This comes as commemorations are being held at a time when most victims of GBV were confined in their homes with their tormentors due to the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown.
With the victims spending more time with the perpetrators, the country recorded an increase in cases of violence against women and children.
Some of the cases reported included rape, assault, emotional blackmail and in some instances, this escalated to murder.
This year’s commemorations are running under the theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” and the ZGC has called on the judiciary to help end the scourge by imposing deterrent penalties.
The commission urged the government to speed up the enactment of a comprehensive legislative framework to deal with cases of sexual and GBV, particularly sexual harassment.
“…..call upon the judicial system to give punitive and deterrent jail sentences to perpetrators of rape and all other forms of sexual offences, including sexual harassment and child marriages, among others.
“Confined living conditions in which victims are locked up with predators and perpetrators also leads to the increase in GBV and violence against women and girls,” the commission said.
The closure of essential support services as a result of the lockdowns has not helped the situation in fighting against GBV.
“And that specialist support services such as shelters, safe houses, rape clinics and other crisis centres are closed during lockdown makes the situation even worse,” it said.
Despite the gloomy statistics showing an increase in GBV cases, ZGC has, however, noted some positive developments in the fight against the practice.
The commission hailed the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act and National Gender Policy with a dedicated thematic area on GBV.
“However, it is encouraging to note that in these 30 years, Zimbabwe has registered milestone achievements, including a constitution with elaborate and comprehensive provisions for the right to dignity, personal security and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment.”